Case Study: How Green Energy Initiatives Really (Don't) Work

AP Photo/Cliff Owen

On the Left and among Democrats (but I repeat myself), so-called green energy is all the rage these days.  Any proposal usually leads politicians down some strange roads resulting in strange policy proposals as to when, how, and why the country has to convert to these green energy sources.  They make silly proposals and promises without really knowing how anything will come to fruition.  As a result, there will be an inevitable crunch.  Maybe the impossibly-attained goal will never come about.  More frequently, maybe the price of energy will skyrocket and while saving the world you hurt your constituents.  That makes for bad politics.  Sometimes, people are denied reliable energy delivery altogether.  It could be a combination of all three, but one thing is certain: eventually reality will confront Green Energy Utopia.

New York state is a case study in the idiocy of these plans.  In 2018, Democrats took full control of the state legislature for the first time in many years.  At the top of their agenda- besides killing babies- was climate change legislation.  So in early 2019, they passed a law that had impossible goals for reducing greenhouse gas emissions.  In June, the law finally passed the Senate and was signed by Governor Andrew “Clay Face” Cuomo.  The law gave state authorities the power to enact regulations that would reduce carbon dioxide emissions in the state by 85% by 2050.  By 2030, it directed the state Public Utilities Commission to require energy companies to generate 70% of the electricity through renewable sources.

While this piece of legislation was pending in the state legislature, the state Department of Environmental Conservation had an application before it.  It was an application to construct a natural gas pipeline to bring fracked gas from Pennsylvania across New Jersey, under New York harbor to communities on Long Island.  In May, 2019, the state authorities, folding to environmentalist pressure, refused the permit for construction of the pipeline claiming it would affect water quality in the area.

With the new climate change bill now the law of the state and pipeline for natural gas now denied, in the fall of 2019, National Grid- an energy utility on Long Island- began denying requests for natural gas hookups due to a shortage of supply.  In fact, over 3,000 customers were turned away.  As a result, new homes had no functional heat and restaurants and businesses could not open.  Citizens and business owners did the expected- complained to the politicians.

After Cuomo intervened with a strongly worded letter to National Grid, the customers quickly got their natural gas hookups.  Just like that, the problem was solved.  But wait, you ask, what about that new green energy law and that pipeline?  As it stands, there are no wind turbines heating homes and firing up restaurant ovens.  Where was this non-renewable natural gas coming from and how did the utility plan to keep it coming without the pipeline?  Remember: those applications for hookups were denied due to a lack of supply.

The state wanted to know, now that there were more customers, how the utility intended to make sure they, and future customers, were ensured of supply.  The company had an answer in a long letter.  But buried in the letter was the solution.  This past winter, they utilized 42 trucks per day to bring compressed natural gas (CNG) to “inject” into their system.  That was just this past year.  To make sure there is an adequate supply of natural gas, they said will they use 108 trucks per day in the winter of 2020/21 to bring CNG into their system.

If you do the math, that is 10,000 carbon-spewing trucks on the road this year carrying highly explosive CNG and an estimated 40,000 trucks next year.  That is the short-term solution to the problem, to which the state happily agreed.  At least for two years, they would not have to deal with customer complaints about cold homes and closed restaurants.  But what about after that?  The utility company has no plan.  They could (1) use even more trucks after that since demand is likely to rise, (2) build a pipeline, but the state will not allow it, (3) build some large-scale infrastructure like a LNG terminal (unlikely given natural gas is not renewable and they denied a pipeline), or (4) force customers to switch to more costly options.

Note that in the both the short-term solution and the proposed long-term solutions to the energy crunch on Long Island, all that talk about requiring businesses “requiring 70% of electric generation to be from renewable sources” like wind and solar is pure fantasy.

The Democrat politicians of New York made ridiculous green energy promises, then codified it in state law.  They did so with no concrete plan on how to fulfill those promises.  They cannot continue this nonsense for very long, but “very long” is an indefinite term.  They have placed demands impossible to meet on utility companies and energy-producers, then empowered the state bureaucracy to force the impossible.

Wind is certainly not the solution.  That would require a wind farm the size of Connecticut just to power Manhattan.  Solar?  Highly unlikely also.  New York is a large state in population; in fact, it is ranked third behind California and Texas.  But like its Leftist counterpart on the West Coast, which has similar draconian green energy legislation, maybe they can take a cue from them with rolling brown outs at peak times, expensive energy bills for customers, and inefficient and unreliable green energy sources.

Or, perhaps they should take a cue from Texas which lacks such green energy laws and unrealistic goals and demands.  It might explain, among other things, why people are fleeing states like California and New York and heading to states legislating in reality like Texas.