Elevating the Discourse at the Atlantic.com

Shorter McMegan:

I once heard these terms of art from the electricity industry. No quizzes!

P.S., Al Gore is fat.


Update: Hoisted from comments…


A quick point for the negative team – the required* additions to the power grid, (i.e. new hv power lines, speficially 765 kV ones) will not really get started, much less be able to come on line in less than 10 years due to the (legitimate) length of the permitting process and (illegitimate) lawsuits brought by NIMBY’ers and uncomprimising environmentalists.

*required because the re-located power generating facilities (e.g. boone’s wind farm) do not currently have the capacity that electrical export regions (applachia, tenn/ohio valleys) currently do. See page 8 of this pdf – recently linked by the daily kos when discussing the 20% wind strategy – for one (industry) revised power distribution plan.


Pretty much, Al Gore suggests collective action to build the infrastructure needed to handle solar and wind. The Liberations hear ‘collective action’ which is ‘bad’ and decide Al Gore is ‘one of those’ and then proceed to make fun of him.

Me I made it half way through the comments and nary a mention of return on investment.


The issue with his proposal is maintaining a viable baseload. Wind and solar do not produce at any near peak capacity for days on end and when that happens where you gonna get your power? Who is going to maintain investment in that level of backup? maintain that level at peak? Actually test that level? And on and on.

So for the new sources to work we need nearly 100% of the old to back it up.


If only it were as hard for the US to waste a trillion in warfare state waste securing China’s oil flow as to fight the NIMBY world order.

CoRev would do well to read the detailed post by Jerome a Paris at The Oil Drum on a program to meet a substantial fraction of the Gore challenge via wind. The key distinction is substitution of generation vs. generating capacity — a distinction also seemingly lost on McArdle. Intermittent renewables provide the latter, which is what primarily matters for decarbonization, quite well. That does require a fair amount of grid reinforcement, which will be a challenge for current opponents of long-distance transmission projects (who on the environmentalist side are often motivated by concern that they’re being asked to foot bills to import power from dirty-coal plants).

As for cost, I’ve been living the cost decreases for wind generation. At the beginning of the year, the green-power premium we’d been paying dropped from 2.7 cents/kWh to 1 cent. Net of an increase in the base dirty-power rates, we still saw a price decrease of more than 1 cent/kWh on our electric bill. So the green electricity is not ruinously expensive by any means, and the premium plus the production tax credit comes to about $30/ton of CO2 reduction.