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Will New York Avoid Germany's Fate?

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Henry Craver's picture
Small Business Owner Self-employed

As a small business owner, I'm always trying to find ways to cut costs and boost the dependability of my services. To that end, I've become increasingly invested in learning about energy saving...

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  • Jul 23, 2020

In a press release on Tuesday, New York’s governor’s office announced they were seeking 4,000 megawatts of off-shore wind energy and other land-based renewable energy. All in all, the selected projects will receive $400 million in both public and private funding. 

In the press release, Governor Cuomo is quoted, saying: "During one of the most challenging years New York has ever faced, we remain laser-focused on implementing our nation-leading climate plan and growing our clean energy economy, not only to bring significant economic benefits and jobs to the state, but to quickly attack climate change at its source by reducing our emissions." Governor Cuomo said. "With these record-breaking solicitations for renewable energy and new port infrastructure, New York continues to lead the way with the most ambitious Green New Deal in the nation, creating a future fueled by clean, renewable energy sources."

This isn’t the first time Governor Cuomo’s made a lot of noise about fighting climate change. He signed the Climate Leadership and Community Protection Act last year, pledging to reduce the empire state’s emissions by 40 percent by 2030 and 85 percent by 2050. And as part of the act, his office announced $30 million in funding for projects to modernize the grid in preparation for an anticipated green revolution. 

Although the press releases certainly sound good, there exists skepticism about Cuomo’s eco-friendly sincerity. Energy Central member Bob Meinetz’s comments from a related article last year lay out some of that skepticism: 

“The latest phase of his "ambitious energy initiative" is to distract from Holtec, Inc.'s purchase of Indian Point (IP). Holtec's closure of IP will replace its carbon-free electricity, which supplies 25% of New York City and Westchester County, with that from a plant using 19th-century fossil fuel technology. U.S. attorney Preet Bharara:

"Based on my review of publicly available documents and my interviews of witnesses," wrote the US attorney, "including employees of [Competitive Power Ventures], the importance of the [CPV Valley Energy Center] to the State depended at least in part, on whether [Indian Point] was going to be shut down.

As early as 2010, [former Gov. Andrew Cuomo aide Todd R.] Howe began to seek [Cuomo aide Joseph] Percoco's assistance in influencing the Former State Operations Director with respect to the Power Plant, most specifically by asking Percoco to advise the Former State Operations Director that the Power Plant was supported by labor unions and to advocate for the closing of [Indian Point]."

“In 2010, Cuomo accepted a minimum of $140,000 in donations from energy companies — likely a fraction of what he received from associated law firms and engineering firms with an interest in his energy decisions.”

But even if Cuomo is leading with the best intentions, we’ve seen well-intentioned energy policy have adverse effects: Look at Germany. And behind their failures, lurks the boring but oh so important realities of load management, as I’m sure those reading this forum know. Why should we believe New York will prove any different than Germany? Are the batteries going to be that much better when this gets off the ground? Is the wind in Germany that much less reliable than that off New York?

Let me know if you have any insights.


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Ron Davison's picture
Ron Davison on Jul 23, 2020

Thank You Germany,

because of you the US has solar and to some degree wind at 1/2 the cost of what we would pay if we did the heavy lifting 1st.

And we probably would not have done the heavy lifting, to busy lifting heavy metals out of the earth with the carbon we are after.

Fuel rods for nuclear is 3 to 4 cents a kwh

Wind and solar are now cheaper than nuclear fuel rods alone in the more southern or arrid regions of the country.

Even in NY solar and wind are cheaper when you add disposal costs of just the spent fuel rods, not counting the demolition/decommissioning of a nuclear plant, the 2  decades to build with no power out, just FF power in to build being burned till plant turns the on switch on for the 1st time.

Then it must run for about the same amount of time, just to recover the energy to build the plant, just on site energy.

3 to 4 decades from 1st capitol spend before nuclear starts to remove C02. (after removing its own Co2 build escapes.)

Now add cost of capitol interest and the nuclear plant must run even longer to hit ROI. And that is whith the subsidies and free catastrophic insurance policy not purchased.

There is the cost to repalce insurance premuim, and the we melted half the state cost hit, Even if all the insurance companies pooled their capitol for one nuclear plant the policy could not be paid economically for both risks and not have the most expensive power ever.

Take that same capitol and buy wind and solar, it comes on line in about a year.

So solar and wind will have produced more carbon free energy than the nuclear plant can ever displace FF burns with, because of the delay time and interest rate capitol costs.

Nuclear does not have to have insurance, its covered by the government.

That means your responsible for the cost of nuclear fails, assuming your not one of the unfortunate during a catastrophic fail.

And thats if the nuclear is ever finished.

we are batting a thousand with both new nuke builds now abandonded, with the rate payers holding the bag.

Old nuke that has been run safely needs to be aknowledged and given honors for those that run them.

Their time serving the nations power needs, impeccably, cannot have a price tag put on it, just know its a big bad # if these folks did not care and do the best job possible.

But it is a new era now, and the econimics point to the now, proven new energy sources.

Start putting storage at the nuclear sites now.

Indepedent of the nuclear plant closures.

We should plan on them closing, but allow them to operate as long as needed until the proven replacements are on line.

The increasing intermittent power will cause a surplus at times.

Nuclear can't ramp up and down well, so it needs a place to store energy when high solar and wind % is in mix, but not so high a % that the nuclear plant is not needed some of the time.

This allows sinking nuclear power at the site so that wind and solar can be dispatched in real time to loads.

The T&D is in place, the land is brown fielded for centuries or longer.

As the plant nears shut down and its power is only used at night to feed the duck curve, the workers of the plant can stay working adding more and more storage.

Nuclear plants can also be used to drive RO for drinking water.

This is a novel way to store energy in water supply creation adds.

If the fresh water can be stored at elevation the water can be used for pumped hydro as well.

All the hydro from Canada is probably the reason that the nuclear plant can even close.

we should partner with Canada to add pumped hydro in Canadas hydro mix.

This allows for US wind and solar excess power to be stored, rather than curtailed.

It also solves the resistance to expanding one way hydro, because it takes one or two orders of magnitude less surface area than a one way dam for the same MWH out.




Bob Meinetz's picture
Bob Meinetz on Jul 23, 2020

Ron, though it's obvious that you're passionate in your beliefs, your anti-nuclear rant has no basis in fact.

Bob Meinetz's picture
Bob Meinetz on Jul 23, 2020

"Why should we believe New York will prove any different than Germany? Are the batteries going to be that much better when this gets off the ground? Is the wind in Germany that much less reliable than that off New York?"

Henry, these are the questions any New Yorker who cares about climate change and clean energy should be asking.

Planet of the Humans director Jeff Gibbs and Michael Shellenberger's Berkeley-based org Environmental Progress deserve credit for the heavy lifting necessary to uncover the financial incentives driving renewable energy. But is everyone just in it for the money? Until recently, I was convinced Andrew Cuomo was secretly scheming with Competitive Power Ventures to defraud the people of New York - that similarly, Gavin Newsom, with his family's extensive investments in oil companies, was willing to forsake the heatlh of the Earth's climate for $millions in sales of California natural gas.

Now I believe the truth is more nuanced - that Cuomo, Newsom, and other public policy figures honestly believe spending $400 million on wind turbines might help save the environment, that no one would possibly spend that much money researching and manufacturing them if they couldn't.

The primary goal of investment isn't a sustainable ecosystem, however, it's sustainable profit, and sustainable profit is 100% dependent on consumption. If there's nothing to sell there's no money to be made, is there? Thus, the sustainability of either profit or climate health always, always, comes at the expense of the other. If selling oil is unprofitable, we sell wind turbines and solar panels. We sell grid batteries that need to be replaced every 10-12 years, and thousands of miles of transmission lines. We sell expensive hydrogen, made by electricity from expensive wind turbines, then transmitted by a convoluted, expensive network of pipelines or container ships to be stored in an expensive reservoir somewhere.

We have a $9-billion Energy Efficiency industry, employing thousands of employees who busily travel about retrofitting homes, consuming vast amounts of energy and generating millions of tons of carbon emissions - to help prevent carbon emissions.

Nuclear fission can make abundant energy without consuming much fuel, land, or resources at all, but that's the point: nuclear energy isn't too expensive, it's not expensive enough.

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