For many Californians electricity costs 50 center per kilowatt hour, about four times more than we pay in Nevada. Nevada governor Steve Sisolak seems determined to follow the California road.
The decisive weakness of solar electricity is unreliability. It doesn’t work at night or when clouds obscure the sun. But our electrical grid must be reliable. Even a short blackout creates huge economic losses as factories and offices are instantly paralyzed.
Solar electricity is four to eight times more expensive than using natural gas to make electricity. Most of Nevada’s electricity comes from natural gas. New solar farms can generate electricity for about 13 cents per kilowatt hour as opposed to the marginal cost of generating the same amount of electricity with existing natural gas plants in the range of 1.5 cents to 3 cents per kilowatt hour, depending on the price of natural gas. Solar electricity that costs 13 cents can easily lead to consumer costs of 50 cents as politicians weave a web of subsidies, build new power lines and subsidize residential rooftop solar costing two or three times more than large scale solar.
Sisolak’s solar farms will not replace NV Energy’s existing fleet of natural gas generating plants. Those plants have to remain, fully staffed and ready to generate electricity on short notice. Those plants provide electricity at night or when it is cloudy. This year it has been very cloudy in July and August due to monsoon storms in southern Nevada. July and August are when electricity demand peaks due to high temperatures and increased air conditioning load. If the parallel backup system is shortchanged then rotating blackouts will happen when the weather fails to cooperate with solar energy dreams.
Solar electricity output peaks in the middle of the day and rapidly drops as sunset approaches. This becomes a critical problem as the percentage of solar electricity increases. To avoid excess solar electricity at midday, new plants, such as the Gemini solar plant north of Las Vegas, must be equipped with extremely expensive battery systems to move power from the middle of the day to the early evening.
The Gemini plant will have a $500 million battery system to store excess electricity in the middle of the day to be released for four hours in the early evening. About every five years the batteries wear out and must be replaced. These battery systems are not remotely able to cure the unreliability problem of solar energy. They only smooth daily output to avoid discarding electricity during midday peaks.
Sisolak justifies his plan by claiming that Nevada is suffering from a creeping climate catastrophe due to emissions of carbon dioxide from burning natural gas. He implies that reducing Nevada’s emissions will ameliorate the coming catastrophe. But there is no evidence of a climate catastrophe. Decades old temperature records have yet to be broken. Reducing Nevada’s CO2 emissions will have no effect on the climate because Nevada’s emissions are microscopic compared to large and rapidly increasing emissions from Asia. All CO2 emissions mix together very quickly in the world’s atmosphere.
Sisolak’s climate program is a non-solution to an imaginary catastrophe.
Solar energy is heavily subsidized and protected by both the federal and state governments. The subsidies may provide as much as two thirds cost of solar farms. The subsidies are disguised by misleading names. For example, “tax equity financing” is a method for looting from the federal treasury involving complex but legal transactions. In spite of the many disguised subsidies electricity consumers still end up paying accelerating electricity costs. Taxpayers pay for the subsidies, often via an inflation tax evaporating their personal savings.
It should be obvious that substituting unreliable and expensive energy for reliable and inexpensive energy is economically destructive.
The political force behind solar energy is the extremist environmental left. Environmental extremism is driven by energetic organizations, such as the Sierra Club, that have discovered that scaring people with doomsday environmentalism is a method for generating vast revenue–more than $100 million per year in the case of the Sierra Club. Many people are easily taken in by fake science and fake economics from seemingly respectable organizations. Unfortunately, the science establishment often goes along because doomsday environmentalism benefits government supported science. Formerly unimportant scientific niche disciplines, such as climate science, became celebrity disciplines that enjoy vast financial support.
Republican politicians must directly confront the energy madness embraced by the Democrats and their doomsday promoting allies.
- OPINION: Nevada Embraces California’s Madness - September 19, 2022
- OPINION: The Bizarre Cult Of Green Energy Takes Nevada - August 22, 2022
- Governor Sisolak’s Solar Scam - August 3, 2022