By Paul Quigg, columnist
Time for some good news to put things in perspective.
We get so caught up in bad news, we’ve forgotten the abundance of wonderful things which have made our lives easier and given us time to think of all the bad things the future may hold. The old saying, “A man whose stomach is empty has one problem, and a man whose stomach is full has many problems,” holds true as we struggle to understand what the future will be like.
We take for granted that we can turn a faucet and clean water comes out and push a little handle and our waste disappears. We get seasonal foods year round and get products from around the world overnight. I can go on all day with the wonders of the civilization we live in, but we have chosen to fret and worry about what terrible things will happen to us in the future.
I have followed the predictions of the “doomsday” prognosticators since the late 1960s, and they have been wrong almost 100 percent of the time. Do they change their positions, not a chance? They say “just you wait” and reap their academic awards, as the human conditions improve globally year after year.
Our linear and local minds can not comprehend the exponential and global world we live in today, it’s just too much to comprehend. Does the future hold problems? Of course. Will a warming planet present problems? Of course. Is the “doomsday” crowd clamoring to scare the hell out of us to follow their lead to a simpler, sustainable world of their design? Of course.
Maybe my optimistic tendencies are wrong, but the last 50-plus years of incredible human progress give me confidence in a bright future for my children, my grandchildren, and my great-grandchildren.
Mr. Quigg, a University of Virginia graduate and resident of Luray, has practiced architecture in the Mid-Atlantic region since 1962. As a lifelong environmentalist, in the 70’s he was appalled at the polluted air and water and has dedicated much of his time since in studying and commenting on the environment. He has been published in the Washington Post, the Wall Street Journal and other publications.
Tomorrow ~ At last, a solar ordinance
Tomorrow ~ Who says we have to have industrial solar?
Tomorrow ~ Steady rise of CO2 ‘discouraging’
Tomorrow ~ Warmer weather is not a bad thing
Tomorrow ~ Without subsidies, solar industry would dry up
Tomorrow ~ Thank you planning commission
Planning commission recommends denial of Cape Solar application by unanimous vote
And just think of all the ungrateful people, descended from savages a mere few generations ago, who still can’t behave themselves.
“A man whose stomach is empty has one problem, and a man whose stomach is full has many problems.” I hadn’t heard of that adage, and it’s a good one. It reminds me of Maslow’s hierarchy of needs, where fulfillment of basic needs allows us to progress to address higher concerns. In a world in which standards of living are improving, one of these concerns will be to protect gains that have been made. That is a good way to view the efforts of research, education, and policymaking regarding the environment which, to my mind at least, you disparage unfairly. Yes, other problems will present themselves to those who are fortunate to have the resources to work on solutions.
It’s true what you say about bad news and dire predictions having greater salience than good news and slowly improving trends. That’s what you’ve been trying to reverse in your columns: give some credit where it’s due, you say. I get that, but then, can we avoid falling into the trap of complacency?
Will, I may disparage efforts unfairly, time will tell. I believe that a substantial portion of the effort is doing more harm than good or not worth the costs involved. I am mostly concerned with the solar industry with players exploiting every tax break, grants, etc. while producing very little useable electricity. Urban Grid is a perfect example. We are spending billions on solar which is producing 1.4 percent of our energy.
Solar is our hope for the far future because all of our past, present, and future energy has come from the sun.
The attached link provides an overview of the potential problems associated with wind generated electricity. More specifically, there are concerns about the anticipated capacity of the project (which could lead to the forced purchase of “replacement” energy by the utility). If constructed, it would be the largest offshore wind farm in the United States.
The 42 percent capacity factor is beyond ridiculous.
Paul, I am not sure I understand your comment. Is it ridiculous because there is “downside” potential (in the form of costly replacement energy) for the utility if it doesn’t meet the capacity requirement or is it ridiculous because there is no “upside” potential for the utility if/when it exceeds the capacity requirement?
I have not followed recent trends in wind capacity but my last understanding was of capacity below 20 percent. Capacity factors can be juggled at the advocate’s discretion with maximum capacity assuming the wind is blowing at optimum speed 24-7. Some of the time wind electricity is not needed and is wasted as utilities are forced, by regulation, to buy it. Energy statistics are so complicated you can get away with saying almost anything you want.
Headwinds for Dominion, pun intended. How reasonable do you think the company’s objections are? Are the consumer protections demanded another example of the very high bar renewables have to clear, versus any fossil fuel plant proposal?
In terms of capacity and replacement energy, it sounds like a reasonable concern on the part of the utility. The SCC regularly conducts formal hearings whenever a utility embarks on a project of this size or any rate case. It is common for outside entities to participate on behalf of the consumer. See the link or search the VA SCC website for docket and case information that details the type of case and the participants. By the way Will, you can participate and provide testimony (in person or by submitting it in writing) in any case on your own.
I believe Dominion knows they are not going to get 42 percent and want to hang the resulting expense on the public.
Dominion estimated a 42 percent average capacity over the life span of the wind farm. Which is substantially different than a three year rolling average performance metric.
In my opinion, if the three year performance clause remains as it currently is written, Dominion will not go forward with the project and will not subject the ratepayers to the 9.8 billion dollar cost.