Sunday, May 26, 2013

Scary News for the Energy Transmission Industry & Clean Line Energy

There is some positive news out there for consumers and pretty darn scary news for the energy industry.  Bill at the Calhoun Powerline has been writing some incredible stuff about what is going under the radar of the mainstream press and their "agenda news".  The U.S. Energy Information Agency put out a report in March.   There are two relevant points here.  First, energy demand is not directly related to the nations GDP like it once was.  In the past as GDP rose, energy consumption and demand paralleled it and also increased.  This is not the case anymore.  GDP projections are no longer a guaranteed increase in energy demand. 

Clean Line Energy had better sharpen its pencil and hire some new “experts” that give rosy projections of outlandish increases in wind energy.   It is now a myth that there is a relationship between GDP and energy demand.

The EIA report also shows future projects for energy demand and demand is basically flat.  Demand is not projected to increase in the next several years.  Again, Clean Line Energy had better go back to the “experts” and create some new figures about projected demand and energy prices.  Demand is not increasing dramatically.  At best, the EIA projects a .9% growth in energy demand into 2040. 

Why?  Energy efficiency is working.  Ratepayers are consuming less energy.  This is confirmed by when PJM Interconnection released the results of this year’s Base Residual Auction.  Demand increases are not there.  Demand is flat.  Supply is not decreasing with coal plant closures.  Energy supply is actually increasing as the portfolio changes.

Bill at Calhoun Powerline had another interesting report that is not good news for big transmission companies like Clean Line Energy.  As much as I hate to admit it, Bill found this information first in a blog by David Roberts at Grist.  Roberts wrote a puff piece for the wind industry on how to “fix” the Illinois RPS.

Bill describes how Distributed Generation is working.  Consumers are installing more and more solar panels.  The prices of solar panels are dropping and technology improves.  This could have a devastating effect on the energy industry with their models of big wind farms and big transmission lines.

The Edison Electric Institute recently put out a report called “Disruptive Challenges” about how solar panels are becoming economically competitive.  This report reads like a horror novel for the energy companies.  It is very graphic and likely would give people like Michael Skelly some nightmares.

When enough consumers start taking advantage of solar, demand from big utility companies will not grow and very possibly demand will fall.   EEI is a trade organization for energy companies.  EEI is not a rosy clean-green renewable organization, but represents the industry including coal, nuclear, and natural gas. 

If EEI says demand for energy from big energy companies is about to fall as consumers take control of their own energy needs, we all should take notice.  In this report, EEI tells energy companies they had better get their house in order because the industry is about to get lean and competitive.  In my opinion, there are two parts of the industry that will be affected the hardest as consumers take control of their energy needs with solar.  First, Big Corporate Wind (AWEA members) is going to be affected.  Consumer owned solar will be in direct competition with other forms of “renewable” energy.  Wind energy is going to have to become competitive or die.  It’s kind of ironic.  The wind industry has become so addicted to the Production Tax Credit and government subsidies, they haven’t seen solar efficiency and pricing becoming more competitive. 

The second part of the industry that should be taking this report seriously is the energy transmission industry.  When consumers start installing more and more solar panels, the need for large scale transmission projects will become more and more irrelevant.  With a little solar generation here and there, the need for large transmission isn’t there.  The utility companies’ distribution lines can be used but large transmission lines will become unneeded aerial sewers.

Fantasy?  Dream of a guy opposed to wasteful transmission projects?  Read the EEI report for yourself.  Solar Distributed Generation is about to change the industry.  Impossible? 

Is the VCR now irrelevant?

What about the landline telephone?  How many people see the old phone irrelevant and replaced it with cell phone technology?

What about Kodak?


Industries can change overnight.  We have waited 30 years for the wind energy industry to mature and be able to stand without the Production Tax Credit.  Ironic the industry could become irrelevant before it matured.  After 30 years, the wind industry had plenty of opportunities to mature.   In the meantime, the solar industry is being forced to mature without the large government subsidies. 

Still think this is a crazy dream of a guy who opposes large scale transmission projects for wind energy?  Bill at the Calhoun Powerline has another interesting blog today.  Wal-Mart is planning to be operating completely free of utility company electricity in 7 years.  Actually the original article came from SMARTGRIDNEWS  with “Utilities: What Wal-Mart’s power plan says about your future (it’s scary!)”.  Maybe we should call this “Scary Energy News 2” with the EEI report as the original.
Ask yourself, with those big flat roofs, is Wal-Mart going to buy wind energy or install solar panels?  Wal-Mart plans on installing solar panels on 1,000 rooftops by 2020.   IKEA is already going down this road and ahead of Wal-Mart.  These are the penny pinching least coast industry leaders moving away from centralized power and taking control of it themselves.  It’s only a matter of time for the consumers to catch on.

Now is not the time to plan out more grandiose powerline schemes.  Like the Edison Electric Institute encourages, now is the time for MISO, PJM, and energy transmission companies to get their house in order.  The future could be very rough for them. 

Now is not the time for politician to look for a “fix” to a state’s Renewable Portfolio Standard.  Now is not the time to approve high voltage transmission projects for a dying wind industry.  The time for the Rock Island Clean Line passed away before it ever arrived. 

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