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  • Wind and Solar Worth the Investment? Obama says Yes, Experience Says No

    US President Barack Obama (L) and Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid (R) tour Photovoltaic Array at Nellis Air Force Base in Las Vegas, Nevada, May 27, 2009 with Base Commander Colonel Howard Belote.

    Speaking at an Air Force base near Las Vegas, President Obama pointed to a field of solar panels and boldly declared, “The first is a solar energy technologies program that will help replicate the success of the Nellis project in cities and states across America.” Obama,

    visiting Nellis Air Force Base between fundraising events in Las Vegas and Los Angeles, toured the largest solar power plant of its kind in the Western Hemisphere, a collection of more than 72,000 panels built on 140 acres, including part of an old landfill. The plant, a public-private venture that cost $100 million, generates about a quarter of the electricity used on the base, where 12,000 people live and work.

    The president said the project created 200 jobs and will save the Air Force nearly $1 million a year while reducing carbon pollution by 24,000 tons a year — the equivalent of removing 4,000 cars from U.S. roads.”

    Economist Russ Roberts responds: “A project that costs $100 million (though I’d guess this number probably doesn’t include the land costs) to save almost $1 million a year? There’s a name for that—a lousy investment. And creating 200 jobs? Not really. The project employed 200 people. Not the same thing.”

    Also under the category of bad energy investments:

    When Stephen Munday spent £20,000 ($31,857) on a wind turbine to generate electricity for his home, he was proud to be doing his bit for the environment. The turbine generated five kilowatts of electricity a day – the equivalent of boiling 300 kettles – and provided two-thirds of the family’s energy needs. It also saved them an average of £500 ($796) a year in electricity costs.”

    What would’ve been a 40 year investment for Stephen Munday (slightly less than the government’s 100 year investment), is now turning into a complete boondoggle:

    He got planning permission and put up the 40ft device two years ago, making sure he stuck to strict noise level limits. But neighbours still complained that the sound was annoying – and now the local council has ordered him to switch it off.

    Officials declared that the sound – which Mr Munday says is ‘the same pitch as a dishwasher and quieter than birdsong’ – constituted a nuisance, and issued a Noise Abatement Order. Electrician Mr Munday, 55, and his wife Sandra, a veterinary nurse, challenged the decision by the Vale of White Horse district council in Oxfordshire. But Didcot magistrates rejected their appeal and they were left to pick up the £5,392 ($8,594) court costs as well. “

    To recap: They spent $100 million to save $1 million per year at Nellis and Mr. Munday spent nearly $32,000 to save about $800 annually.

    There’s a reason after years of preferential treatment wind and solar only provide a small fraction of America’s energy needs. Dollars and sense.  Regardless of how much energy renewable energy provides for the U.S., the decision should be left to the private sector and not the government.

    Note to Nevada and Obama: If you want actual jobs that promote clean and affordable energy, open Yucca Mountain.

    Posted in Energy [slideshow_deploy]

    22 Responses to Wind and Solar Worth the Investment? Obama says Yes, Experience Says No

    1. William Rose says:

      I wish that the amount of warer required to run the solar system was included. I only ask since the areas deemed most able to utilize the sun for solar are also the areas where water needed to operate the systems are more precious than gold, and in Nevada, Lake Mead is at an alltime low ( over 100'down}. Please consider Breader Reactors use in europe, yes neuclear power.(outlawed by Jimmy Carter}

    2. william Rose says:

      I wish that the amount of water required to operate a solar system was included. The areas of our country able to utilize the sun have the least amount of water to spare to operate these systems.

    3. W.T.R. ,Illinois says:

      I wish included was the volume of water needed to operate this system. These areas best suited are least able to supply H2O.

    4. Barb -mn says:

      Yep. The president doesn't know the difference between jobs and people. If Obama created 200 jobs that employed 200 people each, that would be 40000 people employed. Oh, and energy independence is in Yucca Mountain.

      Check out the poisons of recycling materials giving off bacteria, mold and yeast. Causing illness. I wonder what those recycled aluminum cans are going to cause? I'm sure the recycling manufacturing businesses are following all sanitary rules and surely not taking any short cuts to ensure the safety to the people.

    5. Tom Young, Scappoose says:

      I hate it when I am forced to pay for someone elses fanticy.

    6. Rich, San Diego says:

      Solar and wind power have a place in our energy future, but it is wrong-headed to think that this technology is viable for large scale power production for the decade ahead.

      For starters, the President should take out his calculator and tell us how many square miles of mountains and desert we would have to cover with solar panels and wind turbines to power an entire city like Las Vegas, Denver or Los Angeles.

      After banning most forms of human activity (including bicycle riding) from millions of acres in the California desert in the name of wilderness preservation, the President and Congress might want to consider the land use implications of wide scale conversion to solar and wind.

    7. Frank W. New Mexi says:

      "Owe-bama debt-orama" will have to get permission from Feinstein to put any solar systems in California. She says no way are they going to stick those things in her dessert. I would think she would be all for solar panels, she could get the contracts to build them for her husband, I guess he's already to busy with the billions of FDIC money she got for that company he's contracting for now. Solar will only pay when our gas prices reach $10.00 per gallon like Germany. This is where the Cap and trade will come in handy. Oh well we could just throw another 45 billion at Feinstein and she'll work it out.

    8. Ben C, Ann Arbor, MI says:

      Is it just me or is Barry dumb as a box of rocks? Talk about fuzzy math. He must not listen to what is says – most sixth graders have better math skills.

    9. Federico Ruiz, Plano says:

      LOL……

      We get the Government we deserve…

    10. Mike McLellen, Grand says:

      But he sure does look good with his shirt sleeves rolled up – looks like a ordinary workin man to me!

    11. Al, The Villages, Fl says:

      The president is for green energy, not because it is a good investment but because it is poltically good for him. For America, his view (I haven't seen an energy policy) of the way ahead in energy is high on political spin and a disaster for the American economy.

    12. Spiritof76, New Hamp says:

      Solar power that occupies 140 acres produces 25% of the base electricity requirements. I bet it doesn't do that when the sun goes down. You have to look at KW-hrs.

      It is a loser on several levels. The 140 acres can be put to use effectively to generate over 1000MW(continuous 24-Hr production, for several years per fuel load) and at a much lower cost per KW-Hr.

    13. Odd, Burmuda Triangl says:

      I've thought about solar augmenting a home here in sunny SoFla. When I can finally afford a home. But it's not worth it. Why? By the time the cells pay for themselves, they'll be worn out and need replacing. And they'll need extensive storm protection, or you risk losing them in the first Cat1. If you're wealthy, ok. If you're not…

    14. Pingback: PA Pundits - International

    15. Carl A, Fishers, Ind says:

      A 40 or 100 year payback is not a good investment, but Obama cares only for the PR value.

      (For Nick Loris and "Mail on line", the source of the quote for the Mundys' wind turbine story. Such stories often confuse energy with rate of energy production. A kilowatt is a rate of energy production. A kilowatt-hour is a unit of energy. Think of gallons of water per minute and gallons of water. We pay for kilowatt-hours, or gallons of water.)

    16. Truth Hurts, The Rea says:

      Mr.O , my what a brilliant man you are spend a 100,000,000 $ to save 1,000,000 Ok paybacks in 100 years and those so called jobs have almost all disappeared ,how many people are still working?10?Only a total fool would believe that B.S.Good luck fooling the american public ! Are you really that dumb???

    17. Dave McDuffie,Laguna says:

      Always keep uppermost in your mind the democrats "phylosophy": "All money earned in this country is ours and we will make our laws to legally steal it from you and your families and then distribute what is left, after we pay ourselves, to whomever we deem worthy". Cap and trade and any "green" program is simply another law from the demorats to steal your money! And guess what folks, you sit there on your lazy asses and do nothing, letting them get away with it! Dems have systematically dumbed down the population, through brainwashing in publlic schools, to where the majority of people here are dumb as a stump sheeple..are you one of them?

    18. Merrill B, Las Vegas says:

      With a population of nearly 3 million here in Las vegas and a volume of probably 5 million cars, trucks, and motorcycles, taking the emissions of 4,000 cars off the road each year is less than a drop in the bucket. It is interesting that Obama does not talk about fitting 99% of the cars now on the road with kits to generate and burn hydroxy gas. Four and one half million cars, trucks, and motorcycles fitted with such kits would use less water each year than it takes to run the solar panel project in Southern Nevada for one day! Also, hydroxy generators burn as clean as Compressed Natural gas and cost about 90% less to install in the existing cars on the road today and would be the equivalent taking the poluting emissions of four and a half million off the road in Las Vegas alone. It probably would save the government hundreds of billions of dollars a year and reduce our dependence on foreign oil by 50 percent in less than 5 years. Naw, that would be too easy and the government would have to release control of too many industries to achieve it, and that is not what the Obama administration wants to do.

    19. Merrill B, Las Vegas says:

      OK, so using hydroxy generators to run gasoline and deisel engine equiped vehicles is not widely known in the general populace and some of the systems designed have been discredited (maligned and attacked is more like it, without good technical data, I might add). However, I believe that a system that installs by a savvy mechanic or smart do it yourselfer for about 150 dollars or less and will get the vehicle a 30% to 100% saving in gas mileage is worth looking into. Hannity spoke very briefly about a hydrogen cell vehicle that is a prototype of a hydroxy gas powered vehicle spoke positively about the system. Unfortunately the system he mentioned is very expensive to manufacture and more expensive to purchase. The average working person on "Main Street" cannot bear the expense of such a vehicle, even if it was available right now. The system I am talking about is available now, and very reasonable. I am sure that there are thousands of mechanics out there who would be willing to start small businesses (Jobs, Jobs, Jobs) to convert the vehicles of the poor working man to save gas and burn clean cars.

    20. Merrill B, Las Vegas says:

      OK, forget about hydroxy generators for gasoline and deisel engines. Solar power uses too much space for the return in collected useable electricity and wind turbines are too noisy and also create an eyesore on the environment (not my words, Ted Kennedy's). Senator Kennedy fought the installation of wind turbines in Massachussets because it presented an ugly sight across the bay from his mansion. T. Boone Pickens has some good points concerning converting the central plains states to wind power and his company has billons, if not trillions of cubic feet of natural gas to sell for use in vehicles and residential homes. However, he didn't mention the billions of dollars it would take to build the turbines and service stations that would pepper the US to refill the CNS equipped cars with more of the gas (few stations exist across the US that could get a car smoothly across country. There simply aren't many stations, even in large cities that can serve the millions of CNS cars he envisions producing). Building service stations and wind turbines would create many thousands of temporary jobs, but these jobs would go away when the structures are finished. He stands to make many billions of dollars each year when the projects are finished and the jobs created go away. But T. Boone Pickens is a capitalist and a philanthropist of the first order and to my mind is committed to maintaining the free market system and freeing the US from foreign oil companies, so he can't be all bad. Actually, I believe Bill O'Reilly would consider him a true patriot!! Hmmm, I agree with Bill. I would rather go along with Mr. Picken's Plan, to a degree, but I don't think it is the whole answer to freeing ourselves from foreign oil.

    21. Ken Caproni, Tucson, says:

      I have not yet seen a satisfactory energy policy or suggested approach. Wind, solar, etc., are clearly unsatisfactory as longer-term solutions.

      Clearly the right approach is Nuclear Fusion. Granted there are engineering issues with its implementation, but our country has not had a financial priority toward solving these issues. We have essentially gone nowhere since I was in Physics graduate school in the mid '60s. Estimates range up to 50 years before the engineering issues are solved (about the amount of time we wasted since the '60s).

      Fusion is far greener, cleaner, and energy dense than other solutions. Adding Nuclear Fission plants is not the solution. I suggest that we solve Nuclear Fusion issues the way we set priority to go to the moon in the '60s: set a national-priority goal to have working nuclear fusion in 10-15 years. We can solve the fusion engineering problems just as we were able to go to the moon.

    22. Marshall Hill MI. says:

      Most Americans have done more work Accidentally

      than LIBS do on purpose!

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