Clean Energy Splits Conservatives

January 27, 2014

sunteaI’ve posted about the awakening of a renewable energy movement among Republicans and Tea Party conservatives.  Even the New York Times is now recognizing this new reality – which is picking up steam..

New York Times:

…solar power is fast becoming one of the fracture lines dividing the conservative movement’s corporate and libertarian sides. The American Legislative Exchange Council, known as ALEC, which helps pro-business Republicans across the country write legislation, has successfully urged several states to fight federal mandates for adopting renewable energy like solar power. This month, it published a resolution calling for states to “require that everyone who uses the grid helps pay to maintain it and to keep it operating reliably at all times.”

To Mr. Goldwater (Jr., son of conservative 1964 Presidential candidate, Barry Goldwater), the true conservative path lies elsewhere. “Utilities are working off of a business plan that’s 100 years old,” he said in an interview, “kind of like the typewriter and the bookstore.” On the website for his campaign, Tell Utilities Solar Won’t Be Killed, Mr. Goldwater, a former congressman, says, “Republicans want the freedom to make the best choice.”


He says conservatives are the original environmentalists, especially in the West. “They came out here and fell in love with the land,” he said, and added that his father used to tell him, “There’s more decency in one pine tree than you’ll find in most people.”

Tom Morrissey, a former state Republican Party chairman in Arizona who was embraced by the state’s Tea Party groups, called the party’s national leaders “knuckleheads” on this issue. Domestically produced energy is a national security issue, he said, adding, “If we can keep one dollar from going to people who are killing our kids in Afghanistan, it’s a good thing — and I feel that’s what solar energy does.”

He and others consider the utilities to be regulated monopolies whose rates are set by bureaucrats — the opposite of a free-market economy. In Georgia, Debbie Dooley, the national coordinator for Tea Party Patriots and a co-founder of the Green Tea Coalition, said the fact that some conservatives denounced the favorable treatment that solar power got from the federal government was immaterial.

“They neglect to mention billions of dollars that the fossil-fuel industries have received,” she said. “They cherry-pick their principles.”

Debby Dooley in Grist:

It’s time for a new party. I’m calling it the Green Tea Coalition.

The premise is simple: Those who believe in the free market need to reexamine the way our country produces energy. Giant utility monopolies deserve at least some competition, and consumers should have a choice. It’s just that simple, and it’s consistent with the free-market principles that have been a core value of the Tea Party since we began in 2009.

In Georgia, we have one company controlling all of the electricity production, which means consumers have no say in what kind of power they must buy. A solar company could not start up and offer clean power to customers because of restrictions in state law. Our Constitution does not say that government should pick winners and losers, but that is what government is doing when it protects the interests of older technologies over clean energy that’s now available at competitive prices. I say, let the market decide.

Solar prices have plummeted since 2008, dropping almost 75 percent in some areas. Solar is now a great bet against rising utility rates, because once you set up the system, the fuel — sunlight — will always be free. No one owns the sun or has exclusive rights to it. We can give consumers the option to choose solar and protect the environment at the same time.

Just look at the technological advancements that cellphones and personal computers have enjoyed because of free-market competition. Shouldn’t alternative energy sources be given the same chance?


LANSING — Several Republican leaders have formed a conservative group aimed at promoting renewable energy in Michigan.

The Michigan Conservative Energy Forum will push the state to reduce its dependence on coal and increase investment in renewable energy and energy efficiency programs. The announcement comes two days before Gov. Rick Snyder is scheduled to conduct a roundtable discussion on the future of Michigan’s energy policy.

“For too long, we have allowed the energy discourse to be dominated by the left,” said Larry Ward, former political director for the Michigan Republican Party and executive director of the forum.

“Conservatives have sat on the sidelines for far too long,” he said.

Though it’s not affiliated with the state Republican Party, Ward said he expects most members to identify as Republican.

Ward said Michigan must diversify its energy supply and move towards an “all of the above” energy policy that includes wind, solar, hydro, biomass and natural gas. When asked about coal and nuclear power, he said they are part of the picture and that completely distancing from coal isn’t an option.


35 Responses to “Clean Energy Splits Conservatives”

  1. David H. Says:

    Wind and solar power are not unreliable. They aren’t even unpredictable. What they are is *variable*. But they are variable in highly dependable ways.

    IMO, there are actually two points that many people keep overlooking. One is the strength of distributed systems over centralized, and second is the interconnected nature of the energy supply of the future.

    For the first one, the more you rely on centralized sources, the more problems you will have when unscheduled downtime occurs. Putting all your eggs into a 1GW nuclear basket that craps out on you will lead to serious difficulties. But distributed systems actually become *more* reliable as they grow. While a single wind turbine or solar panel is highly variable, a thousand of them spread out over a large area will produce a very stable and predictable output (particularly with good weather forecasting). And if a few of them do happen to go off line, you have much less of a problem making up that capacity elsewhere.

    On the second point, detractors of wind power in particular always seem to leave off the point that it works *very well* hand-in-hand with solar. When the sun is up, the wind may be low, but you’re going to get lots of solar power exactly when and where you need it, and when the sun goes down, or it gets overcast, the wind nearly always picks up. When taken together it means that the need for back up storage is much less than you may expect. The chances of there being an extended period of both sunless and windless conditions, over a large enough area to cause problems, is miniscule.

    In addition, let’s not forget space-shifting via high-capacity long-distance lines. When the sun goes down on the east coast of the U.S., for example, there are still a couple of hours left of solar generation available in the midwest that can be fed back east. And when the sun finally goes down in the midwest, east coast wind power will be ready to flow back in the opposite direction.

    Combine all this with short-term storage, a small “baseload” of steadier renewables like hydro or geothermal (where available), demand reduction, and peaker plants running on biofuels, and there’s really no need to have any nuclear or fossil fuels at all.

  2. Here are some more nerdy facts for electrical energy wonks. A report from MISO on the Jan 7 power peak surge.
    Sorry, the URL is so long. 😐

  3. I give up. Google MISO Jan 6 event
    The listing will show a pdf from MISO titled
    Extreme Weather Event

Leave a Reply

Please log in using one of these methods to post your comment: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s

%d bloggers like this: