FERC Chief: King of the Land of Rainbow Stew

Everyone in the Obama Administration seems to be infected with the same disease: If we repeat this bulls*** long enough and loud enough, it just might come true! And never let facts get in the way of a really cool story!

The most recent example is Jon Wellinghoff, the new Chairman of the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission, which has jurisdiction over utilities and pipelines. They determine when new power plants get built and how much they can charge for their power.

April 22 (Bloomberg) — The U.S. may never need to build new nuclear or coal-fired power plants because renewable energy and improved efficiency can meet future power demand, the head of the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission said.

“They’re too expensive,” Jon Wellinghoff told reporters today at a press conference in Washington hosted by the U.S. Energy Association. “The last price I saw for a nuke was north of $7,000 a kilowatt. That’s more expensive than a solar system.” [Presumably, he is referring to solar power-generating systems, and not to the Solar System. – ed.]…

Southern Co. [who, by the way, has an indentured servant in Barack Obama] and Dominion Resources Inc. are among companies that have submitted applications to U.S. nuclear regulators seeking permission to build as many as 26 new reactors. There are also plans for as many as 87 new coal-fired plants, according to a report this month by the U.S. Energy Department. …

“There’s 500 to 700 gigawatts of developable wind throughout the Midwest,” he said, and “enough solar in the southwest, as we all know, to power the entire country. It’s a matter of being able to move it to loads.”

Demand reductions and electricity storage could offset the intermittent nature of wind and solar, he said. The U.S. currently has generating capacity of about 800 gigawatts, Wellinghoff said.

There is also “at least 100 gigawatts” of hydropower, not including offshore projects that use wave and tides to generate electricity, said Wellinghoff.

Ba. Lo. Ney. Where are the studies that show that any of these new technologies are feasible? How long will it take to do the studies, to develop the technology, to gear up the production lines? And at what cost to the consumer?

And “enough solar in the southwest…”? “As we all know”? Please.

Not to be repetitive, but this visual will give you an idea of the role of wind and power in the 2007 energy consumption picture. I maintain that wind and solar will not be able to keep pace with population growth, much less displace fossil fuels. (Don’t be misled by the graphic – solar and wind make up 1% and 5%, respectively, of renewables.)

And then there’s this article from the Institute for Energy Research:

The Siren Song of Wind and Solar Energy

Despite advocates’ claims to the contrary, wind and solar continue to be the most expensive sources of electricity. The New York Times recently reported that “wind power is currently more than 50 percent more expensive than power generated from a traditional coal plant.” Energy Secretary Stephen Chu told the New York Times that solar technology would have to get five times better to be competitive in today’s energy market. In spite of these reports and admissions, the public relations campaign for wind and solar powered electricity marches on.

For decades, representatives and advocates of wind and solar have claimed that their technology was near a competitive tipping point—but just needed a bit more subsidies, set-asides, and government aid to succeed. But even after 30 years of massive subsidies, wind and solar continue to be more expensive and contribute only a small amount of electricity. In 2008, wind produced 1.3% of the electrical generation in America and solar produced a meager 0.02%.

The article goes on to document the predictions of a rosy future for wind and solar, going back to the 1970’s. What makes anyone think this time is different? The one element that has changed is that the present Administration may have the political power to make it happen by coercion.