Gresham’s Green Law

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The U.S. Secretaries of Interior and Energy Feb. 7 announced plans to fast-track four offshore areas for wind farms, with future wind structures off the coasts of  several more states. This could be a disastrous error at a time of oil supply uncertainty. As King Solomon wrote in the book of Ecclesiastes, this is a futile “grasping at the wind.”

The government could issue leases for four new East Coast wind farms by year’s end, the Associated Press reported. The Interior Department said the sites it has identified are off the shores of Virginia, Maryland, Delaware, and New Jersey. In coming years, plans are to put wind turbines hundreds of miles at sea out from  Massachusetts, Rhode Island, North Carolina, Hawaii, and even in the Great Lakes.

The National Wind Strategy acknowledges that financing these far-at-sea turbines in the Outer Continental Shelf will be an unknown expense. But the Strategy states that “financing could amount to roughly half of the cost” of obtaining the wind energy.

The Department of Energy plans initially to spend more than $50 million to begin to try to meet Barack Obama’s impossible goal of generating 80 percent of the country’s electricity from clean energy sources by 2035.

To put things in perspective, only 11 percent of the electricity was generated from renewable sources in 2009, according to the Energy Information Administration (EIA).In its Annual Energy Outlook 2011 (published in December) EIA predicts only 56 percent of electricity will be generated by not only renewables but also by natural gas and nuclear sources in the next 25 years—far below the President’s boundless wishes.

Many politicians have fallen under the spell of “green” jobs creation, at least partly entranced by the $7 billion in subsidies the Obama Administration has handed out for wind farms and other renewable energy programs. But–as in what economists know as Gresham’s Law–bad money drives out good. Jonathon A. Lesser, founder and president of Continental Economics, Inc., a firm that has worked heavily with utilities, points out, “There’s no such thing as a free lunch, green or otherwise.”

Just last September, as Lesser notes, California’s Air Resource Board adopted a mandate that requires the state to get one-third of its energy from renewable energy by 2020. Then-Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger foresaw “a million-trillion global market for clean energy, and I look forward to seeing even more investment and job creation happen throughout our state….” As Lesser says, “Politicians blithely ignore economists and continue to promote a mythical ‘green’ economy that will soon emerge.”

In Obama’s State of the Union speech the President said, “I challenge you to join me in setting a new goal: By 2035, 80 percent of America’s electricity will come from clean energy sources….”

Obama named his pal Jeffrey Immelt, General Electric CEO, to head the President’s Council on Jobs and Competitiveness. General Electric has more than 13,500 wind turbine installations worldwide. GE could be subsidized to make windmills here, and then ship them to China.

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  • Reason_For_Life

    The article is clear, concise and accurate. It misses only one point. It assumes that the goal of "alternate" energy advocates is merely to line their own pockets with other people's money. I wish this were the case, the truth is much, much worse.

    Energy is the capacity to do work. Energy amplifies an individual's efficacy in the real world. With energy an individual can do much more than he can with just his own muscles. For transportation it's steam locomotives versus stage coaches, automobiles vs trains. For production its motorized factories versus hand labor.

    When you decrease the amount of energy available you decrease the actions possible to human beings and thereby limit their capacity to act in their own interests. You literally limit their capacity to live.

    During Obama's 2008 campaign he said that his energy policy would necessarily cause energy prices to "skyrocket". No sane person would deliberately set out to do this unless limiting people was his goal. Limiting a person's actions is a war on human life itself.

    The actual intended goal is to reduce Americans to helplessness because helpless people readily accept a dictator. There aren't enough "poor and downtrodden" in America to achieve dictatorship now, so politicians seek to create more. Taking energy away from people is the means, tyranny is the goal.

    • sflbib

      As governor of Arkansas, Bill Clinton tried limiting peoples' access to energy [namely gasoline] and learned a bitter lesson as a result.

  • JosephWiess

    It might be easier to put the turbines under water and allow tidal action to create electricity. That would put the power source out of sight and let the earth actually produce energy.

    • Rifleman

      That makes a lot more sense, but I think the problem with using wind and tide for energy generation is still mostly bearings, blades, and to some extent, power transmission.

  • Rifleman

    The picture looks like a huge navigation hazard to me, and setting them "Hundreds of miles out to sea," creates a huge maintenance problem. It also looks like a huge security problem. What do they think those ships cruising out hundreds of miles to set and maintain them run on?

    What’s going to happen when a “Liberian freighter” cruises through and wrecks a bunch of them, or a hurricane cruises through and wrecks them all?

    On top of that, even if they just had to walk out the back door to get to them they still never generate more energy than it takes to build and maintain them.

    I wonder what the rate is to lease the surface of open ocean? What a racket.

    • Reason_For_Life

      Hundreds of miles out to sea? An just how expensive do you think the transmission lines will be? The power losses over hundreds of miles of electrical conductors would eat up most of the power that's generated. These people are engineering and science illiterates.

      You can find better science that this in 1950's sci-fi movies.

      • Rifleman

        As you said so well above, the object of 'green energy' isn't energy, it's to divert capital from its' most efficient use or even economically beneficial purposes. I would go further and say it's to destroy US wealth and industrial capacity so we can't interfere again in the world socialist revolution. Dp politicians like hussein want to preside over our decline so much, they'll 'engineer' that decline themselves, if they have to. You'll notice everything they do lowers our standard of living.

  • joe

    Hundreds of miles is stupid. If you put them right off of the beach, where the water goes really deep, the tides will turn the blades. Imagine it as a turbine lime those used on dams. The Norwegian use it in the fjords and produce energy.