Charging ahead with bad energy policy

Commentary

In the last few weeks there has been both good news and bad news in the battle between total dependence on renewable “green” energy and a sensible energy policy in New York state.

First the bad news. I’m sure that many of you have read the recent OBSERVER story that the price of electricity spiked during the recent July heat wave. This was just another one of those unintended consequences that politicians are so adept at creating when they begin meddling in things, they know little about.

According to Assemblyman Andrew Goodell during the heat wave the price of electricity was driven up due to congestion in the transmission system that brings power to western New York, most of which now comes from heavily polluting coal fired plants in Pennsylvania. Goodell pointed out that the transmission system in our area was originally designed to deliver power from the now silent Dunkirk steam plant and the equally silent Huntley Station in Tonawanda and not from plants in Pennsylvania which is the reason for the congestion during periods of high demand like heat waves.

I’m sure we all remember the jubilation that met the governor’s 2013 announcement that the Dunkirk plant would remain open and be converted to cleaner burning natural gas. Don’t politicians say the craziest things when they need our votes?

Getting back to renewable energy, Goodell said that the Public Service Commission is aware of the problem but that repairs will take time. Unfortunately, I find that the repairs to relieve congestion are just one of many repairs, updates and rebuilds that engineers will be facing so that all those new wind and solar farms can be tied into the grid in order that wind power from Chautauqua County and solar power from the Mohawk Valley can be sent to areas of high demand

Problems have already arisen in transmitting some forms of renewable power where it is needed. In 2018 New York produced less renewable energy then in 2017 with a drop of 2.5 percent.

According to those in the know the reason for this was that our electric grid was unable to deliver renewable energy to regions where it was needed. In 2018, 70 gigawatts of wind energy went to waste because the grid couldn’t move it from upstate to areas of high demand. The governor was warned, but apparently has chosen to ignore, that as the state grows more dependent on renewable energy, we will face additional problems transmitting wind and solar energy where it needs to go and the state may face more brownouts and blackouts in the future

Besides the “blips” that local electric customer will see on their bills after future heat waves the cost of transitioning to renewable energy will cost all New Yorkers more for their electricity. What should disturb all New Yorkers is that the Cuomo administration has never made an effort to make even a rough estimate of the fiscal and economic impact of dependency on renewable energy. In light of that we should be prepared for large and unexpected increases in our electric bills that are already 43 percent above the national average.

As the cost of electricity goes up it will only accelerate what has been happening in upstate New York for years as businesses and citizens flee the state. Of course, supporters of green energy tell us that there will be new jobs in the green energy field to take up the slack. What kind of jobs will those be, I wonder? Just picture someone tethered to a 500 foot high tower cleaning dead birds off turbine blades or sweeping dust and dirt from solar panels in the summer and snow in the winter. We only have to look north to Tesla’s Solar City plant in Buffalo to understand that job claims in green energy are often wildly inflated.

The good news in energy is that the Chautauqua County Legislature recently passed a resolution opposing the construction of wind turbine farms on Lake Erie as part of the governor’s misguided and quixotic campaign to make the state dependent on renewable energy. As the resolution states wind turbines on the lake will have a negative impact on bird and fish populations but it will also have an adverse impact on recreational use of Lake Erie by local residents and visitors.

Opponents of wind and solar farms can take heart in the growing opposition to wind and solar farms by upstate citizens and municipalities. Local residents and organizations in these areas are working to save their landscapes and wild life from the blight of towering wind turbines and rapidly spreading fields of solar panels.

Not surprisingly, as opposition grows it has been reported that state officials have begun taking the questionable step of using state resources to help renewable friendly local officials change municipal codes to smooth the way for turbines and solar farms. So much for the duty of state government to place the wellbeing of its citizens first.

Thomas Kirkpatrick Sr. is a Silver Creek resident. Send comments to editorial@observertoday.com

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