The Unhinged Unleashed: St Louis, Missouri Decrees City to Go 100% Renewable

The wild and wonderful claims about wind and solar power need to be taken with a liberal dose of pixie dust.

The long-suffering power consumers of Australia’s wind power capital, South Australia have been told for more than a decade that wind power is free, and getting cheaper all the time. And yet, they suffer the highest retail power prices in the world. They’ve also been bombarded with stories that the routine load shedding and statewide blackouts – the beleaguered State is now internationally infamous for – have nothing to do with total and totally unpredictable collapses in wind power output.

Instead, South Australians are led to believe that its rickety grid is all about meddling climate-deniers who have stopped SA from going 100% renewable.

The latest wheeze is that South Australians can expect retail power prices to plummet within six months, all thanks to the plan hatched by its vapid Premier, Jay Weatherill to squander $150 million on a Tesla mega-battery, that would power SA for all of four minutes, when the wind stops blowing and the Sun goes down.

Like the newspapermen of old, renewables rent-seekers and their political enablers have never let the facts stand in the way of a ‘good’ story.

In this piece it’s about maniacs in Missouri claiming that 100% of their Capital’s power will emanate from nature’s ‘wonder fuels’ – sunshine and breezes.

Having detailed the disaster that’s unfolded in South Australia, STT can only say “well, good luck with that!”

Renewable energy – by royal decree – meanwhile, the poor suffer
Watts Up With That?
Paul Driessen
6 November 2017

The St. Louis city council has unanimously passed a resolution decreeing that by 2035 the city will somehow, almost magically be powered by 100% “clean, renewable” electricity. Or at least by paper certificate, as St. Louis city council raises electricity costs for poor families.

In 2016, Missouri generated 96.5% of its electricity with fossil fuel and nuclear power, 1.6% with hydroelectric, and just 1.5% with wind and solar. The St. Louis Metro Area did roughly the same.

But now, by royal decree, the St. Louis City Crown has made it clear, the climate must be perfect all year – and by 2035 the city will somehow, magically be powered by 100% “clean, sustainable” electricity.

The Board of Aldermen unanimously passed a resolution calling for this to happen – via tougher energy efficiency measures and a transition to wind and solar power. The decision was supported by “environmental, advocacy and religious” organizations, which cited “sustainability and climate consciousness” as major concerns, an effusive article noted. The decision was simply “smart business,” they claim, because renewable energy is becoming “cheaper and cheaper,” and businesses want to move to cities that rely on renewable energy.

City officials have promised to launch an immediate “transparent and inclusive stakeholder process,” to develop a “plan of action” by December 2018. Who will actually be included in this “inclusive” process, and who will not be invited to participate, they did not say. However, recent marches, rants, dis-invitations, property destruction and physical assaults around cities and campuses offer helpful clues.

The following observations may help initiate the St. Louis review process – and similar discussions about renewable energy in other communities.

The local utility company (Ameren) already has a Pure Power program that lets St. Louis residents and businesses voluntarily purchase Renewable Energy Certificates (RECs). When a customer signs up for 100% renewable energy, Ameren charges an extra penny for every kilowatt-hour (kWh) of electricity. That increases utility bills by 10-20% and on average adds about $150 to annual residential bills; $850 to commercial bills; and $20,000 to industrial electricity charges.

However, it does not mean customers are actually getting wind or solar energy. Each REC simply represents “environmental attributes associated with past renewable energy generation” and proof that “renewable energy was generated by an eligible renewable energy source.”

In other words, an REC merely means electricity was generated somewhere, sometime in the past, and sent somewhere, along a transmission line, whether or not it was really needed at the time. It simply pays wind developers for every kilowatt generated – transferring wealth from customers to developers.

All this raises intriguing questions. If wind and solar are getting cheaper, and more affordable than fossil fuels, why does Ameren charge a 1-cent-per-kWh premium for them? Why do they need to be mandated? How many times might certain wind operators sell the same certificates? How many counterfeits will con artists sell? How many “certificate cops” will be needed to police the lucrative trade?

Once St. Louis makes renewables mandatory, the involuntary wealth transfers will become huge. Worse, the system will be enormously regressive – falling hardest on poor and working class families, small businesses operating on slim profit margins, and major energy users like hospitals and factories.

Missouri currently has relatively low electricity prices; St. Louis rates are even lower. Imposing renewable energy mandates will send city electricity rates into realms now “enjoyed” in California and Connecticut: 19 cents per kWh for families, 17 cents for businesses and 13 cents for industries. They could even reach the punitive rates now paid in Germany: 35 cents for families, 18 cents for all others!

How might that affect a vital energy-intensive customer like the 635,000-square-foot Barnes-Jewish Hospital Center for Advanced Medicine? At today’s rates, it pays around $1.4 million a year for electricity. A 13% Pure Power REC hike would increase that bill by $180,000. At CA-CT-German rates, that bill would skyrocket to $3.3 million annually – a massive, unsustainable $1.9 million increase.

How many employees would the hospital have to lay off, to make up for that spike? How many services would it have to eliminate or reduce in quality? How badly would patient care suffer?

How will poor and blue-collar families fare if their electricity rates nearly double? United Way recently found that 56% of St. Louis families are already unable to pay their basic living expenses: housing, food, clothing, transportation, taxes, healthcare and child care. How much worse will this situation become?

Then why are the city and its allies (especially religious groups) so intent on implementing these renewable energy mandates? Perhaps because that is easier than tackling real city problems. Missouri high school students as a whole have an 85% graduation rate; in St. Louis only 46% graduate. The city ranks #12 among “worst US cities to live in,” #4 for murders, and #2 for “most dangerous.”

Instead of trying to improve on this dismal record, the Aldermen & Allies want to be at the forefront on “disastrous manmade climate change” and “sustainability” (or at least “consciousness” about the issues).

Average global temperatures have dropped back to where they were before the 2015-16 El Niño. Harvey was the first major hurricane to hit the US mainland in a record 12 years. Tornado, drought and storm frequency and intensity are on par with historic records. Where’s the disaster or human connection?

As to clean and sustainable, wind and solar are not. The enormous installations require vast amounts of land and raw materials, plus more for ultra-long transmission lines. (The wind installations Anheuser-Busch plans to use for its 100% renewable PR stunt are 350 miles away – in Oklahoma.) Still more land and materials are required for backup fossil fuel power plants or ginormous battery arrays – so that families, hospitals and businesses have electricity when they need it, instead of when it’s available.

For the wind option, just generating the 3.5 billion megawatt-hours of electricity the United States uses every year – and storing power in batteries for just seven windless days – would require some 14 million turbines! That’s because more turbines force us to go to lower and lower quality wind areas, which means instead of generating electricity 33% of the year at best wind sites, they’d only do so half of that time. Using Tesla-style 100-kWh battery packs would require something on the order of 600 billion units!

Have the Aldermen & Allies run those numbers – and costs – for the St. Louis share of all this? Will Gov. Greitens and the state legislature go along with all this – and help pay the costs?

More to the point, all of this would require unfathomable amounts of mining, processing, smelting, manufacturing and shipping: concrete, iron, copper, fiberglass, lithium, cadmium, rare earth metals and more. Since St. Louis and other environmentalist groups generally oppose mining (and foundries, refineries and factories) in the USA, most of those materials will come from someone else’s backyards:

Places like Baotou, Mongolia and the Democratic Republic of Congo – where men, women and even children dig them out and process them under horrific environmental, health and safety conditions. Their risk of dying due to cave-ins or exposure to toxic, carcinogenic materials is intense and constant.

Some claim renewable energy is nevertheless sustainable, and moral. It must be an interesting group of religious leaders who’ve come to the fore in St. Louis (and elsewhere) to reach that conclusion, support major wind and solar energy programs – and denounce fossil fuels and investment in oil and mining companies.

People in impoverished and developing countries have little interest in wind and solar power, except as a stopgap for distant villages. They want abundant, reliable, affordable electricity. That’s why they have built hundreds of coal-fired power plants and have 1,600 more under construction or in planning.

One has to wonder if those who promoted and voted on the St. Louis program (and others like it) ever considered these hard realities. Too often, they seem content just to feel righteous, at least among their peers and certain stakeholders – even if most big renewable energy programs are really just pixie dust.

Paul Driessen is senior policy analyst for the Committee For A Constructive Tomorrow (www.CFACT.org), and author of Eco-Imperialism: Green power – Black death and other books on public policy.
Watts Up With That?

About as likely as running solely on sunshine and breezes.

About stopthesethings

We are a group of citizens concerned about the rapid spread of industrial wind power generation installations across Australia.

Comments

  1. Jackie Rovensky says:

    A little reminder that the Hornsdale Project has a contract to supply the ACT with renewable energy, how does that work in with the energy from the battery? – will they get a ‘share’ of it if the wind isn’t blowing and there is a need to switch the battery on? Or will it be kept just for SA’s use after all we are paying for the battery as well as the pain and suffering of having the turbines here. If they will be ‘sharing’ did anyone check with the ACT to see if they would like to contribute to the cost of the battery’s or if they were OK with a reduced amount of energy available to them from the turbines?
    You see I cannot quite get my head around how the ACT can have a contract to secure energy supply from these turbines which are not in their backyard, after all the energy is going down the same cabling as everyone else’s who is connected to the grid. I accept they have probably ‘invested’ in the project so it could be built, but why should they receive the energy any cheaper than anyone else – they actually don’t have any turbines in their own backyards so they don’t even contribute to any wind energy going into the grid. Surely they should be termed as shareholders and receive shares as payment for their investment instead, and buy from the grid the same as everyone else. Note they do not appear on the AEMO Data Dashboard as contributors or users. Yet I assume they are connected to the Grid otherwise how would they be able to contract to receive energy from turbines here in SA as well as Victoria and soon NSW?
    We also need to ask are we and the other States being charged higher prices to cover the lower prices the ACT pays?

  2. John McKerral says:

    Does anyone know for certain where the electricity to charge this Tesla mega-battery is to come from? If it is truly from a wind farm directly and not from the grid, how is the wind farm to be paid their RECs and wholesale spot price for the electricity so used. Doesn’t that apply when each MWh is put on the grid? I really can’t see the wind farm doing without their RECs and wholesale spot price for the electricity used to charge the big battery, can you?

    In that case can the chosen wind farm produce enough electricity to fully charge the battery or are other wind farms involved? If the electricity is from the grid, there is no way that they can be sure that they are storing renewable energy.

    Also, while it is charging the battery its production is not available to users on the grid!

    If the battery storage operator purchases the electricity from the grid, what rate is charged for the electricity from the grid that is used to charge the battery, retail or wholesale?

    It seems to be a mystery that needs to be looked into.

    I am sure that the battery operator will receive his RECs when supplying electricity! So most likely two sets of RECs and wholesale spot price are paid on that electricity, once when generated to be stored and once when supplied to the grid from the battery for use by the consumer. The wholesale price for electricity from the storage facility is bound to be very high as it will only be required during an emergency, for example no wind generation due to no or very low wind speeds..

    It all sounds very expensive too me!

    Thank you for your consideration on this matter.
    John

    • John, as far as we can tell, the power is meant to come from the Hornsdale wind farm owned and operated by French outfit, Neoen. Under the LRET, batteries are not included as eligible renewable generation sources, wind power is, so the operator of the battery should not receive RECs, the wind power operator will.

      Our understanding is that the SA State government, which is the ‘owner’ of the battery, has entered a power takeoff agreement with Neon. In the first instance, Neon will collect a REC for a MWh delivered the storage in the SA government’s battery.

      The SA government is unlikely to store anything other than electricity generated by wind power (we understand that to be the terms of the contract with Neoen). Moreover, it would be a political and PR disaster for all concerned if it were revealed that the battery was storing power from conventional sources. All of the terms between the parties are locked up and confidentiality clauses, so we are relying on open reporting and insider info. STT understands that the SA government will never actually own the battery, instead it is leasing the battery on terms reached with Elon Musk, with an estimated total cost of around $150 million over the expected life of the battery. That cost, along with another $400 million or so to be spent on diesel fuelled jet engines etc, will be paid for by South Australian taxpayers, on top of their already rocketing power bills.

      The SA government will ‘operate’ the battery, in the sense that it has determined the basis upon which it will purchase power, on the terms agreed with Neoen, and to release it to the grid as it sees fit.

      You are correct about the battery only being charged when there is an excess of wind power. When the wind is blowing solidly in SA, there is an excess of output. Since the September 2016 statewide blackout, AEMO has capped output at 1200 MW, whereas there is 1698 MW of wind power capacity in SA. Accordingly, when the wind blows for four or five hours straight (about the limit of consistent, suitable wind speeds), the battery should notionally be able to receive some of the curbed output, where turbines would otherwise be shut off.

      The general public is unlikely to ever see a proper accounting for the cost of power being released from the battery. In practical effect the battery will operate much like peaking power plants (OCGTs or diesel generators), dispatching power when wind power output collapses, at exorbitant cost. Those events are not emergencies, as you suggest, but are a daily occurrence.

      You are correct that it will be very expensive power, however it is accounted for. Modelling done by the Minerals Council placed the cost of wind power packed up with batteries at between $304 and $727 per MWh dispatched:

      https://stopthesethings.com/2017/06/19/power-price-punishment-spreads-as-more-retailers-add-20-to-australian-power-bills/

      Here is another post that might help answer your questions:

      https://stopthesethings.com/2016/08/31/bulk-battery-storage-of-wind-power-a-myth/

  3. Jackie Rovensky says:

    On last nights news here in SA, we were told our insipid, brainless Premier was going to ‘cut the ribbon’ on his mate Musk’s big battery pack next week, as it was all powered up. Yet it had only in the past couple of days finished being connected to the Hornsdale Wind Project. We were then informed by the Weather presenter with tongue in cheek the Hornsdale project had not produced any real energy since, and that at times was doing nothing. So you may ask why – well the answer is THERE WAS NO WIND blowing or even lightly breezing past.
    This came a day after Adelaide had a blackout, apparently due to a cabling failure and our insipid brainless Premier made a rather petulant comment that he would be blamed but he was happy to take it and pass it onto the private company who owns the cabling.
    Obviously he is under enormous strain at the present time and we should cut him some slack – which I could be persuaded to do, though only if he resigns and publically apologise to the people of this State for the enormous cost his policies have left us the people of this State to pay, and the damage his policies have had to our environment, peoples health, our power supply and our reputation as a place that offers a future to all.
    Further, apparently Musk will not be here to cut the ribbon with his ‘mate’ Weatherill, instead the owners of the Hornsdale Wind plant will be. It would seem Musk has no further use of our Premier, he has what he wanted – someone to pay to install a battery pack that has never been successfully tested on a large scale wind project. He has also made a deal to help him secure a site to work on his desire for battery run vehicles and goodness only knows what other ‘deals’ he has secured from our insipid weak beguiled Premier.
    The world will never be rid of this ‘renewables’ con job until our leaders develop brains that can rationalise and recognise what a vast number of people already do – that if it sounds too good to be true it probably is.

  4. Incredible, St. Louis, incredible! King Canute had nothing on you! And that Tesla Super Battery, that’s super expensive, enjoy those four minutes of juice in Australia. More expensive toys for the elite. If this wasn’t happening, it would make cheap sci-fi.

  5. Reblogged this on ajmarciniak and commented:
    The Unhinged Unleashed: St Louis, Missouri Decrees City to Go 100% Renewable
    November 25, 2017 by stopthesethings Leave a Comment

    The wild and wonderful claims about wind and solar power need to be taken with a liberal dose of pixie dust.
    The long-suffering power consumers of Australia’s wind power capital, South Australia have been told for more than a decade that wind power is free, and getting cheaper all the time. And yet, they suffer the highest retail power prices in the world. They’ve also been bombarded with stories that the routine load shedding and statewide blackouts – the beleaguered State is now internationally infamous for – have nothing to do with total and totally unpredictable collapses in wind power output.
    Instead, South Australians are led to believe that its rickety grid is all about meddling climate-deniers who have stopped SA from going 100% renewable.
    The latest wheeze is that South Australians can expect retail power prices to plummet within six months, all thanks to the plan hatched by its vapid Premier, Jay Weatherill to squander $150 million on a Tesla mega-battery, that would power SA for all of four minutes, when the wind stops blowing and the Sun goes down.
    Like the newspapermen of old, renewables rent-seekers and their political enablers have never let the facts stand in the way of a ‘good’ story.
    In this piece it’s about maniacs in Missouri claiming that 100% of their Capital’s power will emanate from nature’s ‘wonder fuels’ – sunshine and breezes.
    Having detailed the disaster that’s unfolded in South Australia, STT can only say “well, good luck with that!”

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