Renewable energy key to US jobs and reducing deficit

“One of the most important issues in this year’s election is energy.

Our ongoing addiction to Mid-East oil leaves us dependent on countries that are often unstable and hostile. Developing our own domestic energy resources and investing in renewable energy lessens this dependence. It also has the potential to create jobs and improve our trade deficit.

The two presidential candidates have laid out energy plans that sound similar: both President Obama and Governor Romney want to continue to develop domestic energy resources, including renewable energy, with the aim of making the U.S. less dependent on foreign oil.

But according to Robert F. Kennedy Jr., the president of environmental group Waterkeeper Alliance, the plans are different in several important ways. And President Obama’s plan, Kennedy says, is much better for the country.

“We need to be energy independent but we can’t look into the future by looking in a rearview mirror…”

Here is a direct link.

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9 Responses to Renewable energy key to US jobs and reducing deficit

  1. Canadian says:

    Renewable may be great in principle. But the epic green-power-failure test cases in Spain and elsewhere reveal massively increased financial problems when forcing these programs through.

  2. FredB says:

    Did you know that this big supporter of windmills runs a company that is a big builder of subsidized wind farms?

    I’ll believe in windmills when they make economic sense without subsidies.

  3. Jonathan says:

    I agree Fred, subsidies often produce distortions in areas that wouldn’t exist without said subsidy. I highly doubt corn, or high fructose corn syrup for that matter, would be so pervasive absent the taxpayer’s wallet.

  4. John C says:

    I agree with some of what Kennedy says, in principle. However, his assertion that solar power and wind power are “free” is just not true for many reasons (e.g. maintenance costs; upgrades; they take up huge swaths of land; and wind in particular requires massive distribution networks.) It reminds me of the old nuclear industry mantra of the ’50s that claimed that with nuclear power, energy would be “too cheap to meter.” How did that work out?

    Furthermore, Nicole Foss, who is an energy expert, asserts that, by today’s standards and future projections, renewable energy cannot come anywhere near meeting our energy demands.

    That’s not to say we should not continue to develop and improve renewable energy generation. I am all for that. But anyone who claims renewables are the answer today are doing their part to condemn most of humanity to a low-energy, low-standard-of-living future.

    We are stuck with oil and coal and gas for a while longer. And given how much of it North America actually has (much more than most people know), in the short term that is where our energy will come from.

  5. John C says:

    Or how about the FIT and microFIT programs right here in Canada.

    When I looked into microFIT, the gov of Ontario was paying 83 cents per KWH for electricity generated by private installations––83 cents!––when consumers were paying an average of about 7 cents. If the gov thinks this is worth tax payer money, it indicates how expensive building new generating capacity actually is.

    I carefully worked out the ROR for a rooftop installation on my own home, which wold have cost me $70,000 to install. In inflation-adjusted, after-tax terms (assuming a 2.5% rate of inflation, which I think is low for the next 20 years) I arrived at an ROR of 1.5%. I used inflation adjusted numbers because the rate the gov pays remains the same over the 20-year contract. My calculations only included minimal expected maintenance costs, and does not factor in repairs or replacement of broken panels. Oh, and before you install the panels, you better redo your roof. I just redid mine for $9,300.

    Besides that, I hear the gov has lowered the rate they will pay generators to 55 cents. No doubt because at 83 cents the program was very popular to say the least. At 83 cents, solar sellers were claiming you could get an ROR of between 10 to 15%. That’s awesome if you can get it. Too bad it’s not true.

    Now, to be fair, getting a clear 1.5% after inflation and after tax is not bad (though at 55 cents/KWH I doubt the ROR is even that much today). I wonder how many home owners would have participated if the marketing literature claimed in big, bold letters that they would make 1.5%.

  6. John C says:


    I dug up my microFIT solar calculations, just for the helluvit, to make sure I was giving the right numbers.

    So, my actual ROI would have been 1.44% after
    • Inflation (assumed 2.5%)
    • Income tax
    • System performance degradation (efficiency drops a bit every year)

    My ROI calculation did NOT factor in:
    • maintenance/monitoring fee ($350/year)
    • anticipated repairs/parts replacement (e.g. inverters)
    • hydro home connection fee of $1500
    • extra home insurance of $70/year
    • and other sundry costs

    I just checked a solar seller’s web site. I find it very interesting that when I looked into the microFIT program, the typical ROI claim was 10-15% at 83 cents/KWh. Now, at 54.9 cents, they are still claiming the same ROI and the installation costs have not declined. Hmmm…

  7. michael says:

    Whenever RFK Jr.’s name is mentioned my first and last thought is of this quote..
    “What a needy, desperate thing to claim what’s wild for oneself…”
    Can anyone who keeps a wild raptor hooded, tethered and keen(near starvation) for his own stimulative blood lust be given any credibility?

  8. Robert Lynn says:

    Government “investing” has a record of unmitigated failure. The only time the government should be investing is when the nation is at war and survival is on the line. Real investing is done by people and groups of people. You can examine technological history by viewing S-Curves which show paradigm shifts in technology which have never happened on account of government programs. When a technology is profitable and useful it is adopted by the market how technology is developed

  9. dave says:

    I don’t believe subsidies will be necessary. When oil becomes more scarce we will gradually shift to more renewable and this time it will be profitable. It’s too early to be profitable now and any attempt at large scale has simply angered taxpayers because it is not economically beneficial. Now he does have a point about internalizing costs and if they did that then the true cost of coal and oil would be much higher. But that would be almost impossible to do. In the end the market will decide when renewable energy becomes more widespread

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