Chuck DeVore, Vice President of National Initiatives, addressed the Independent Power Producers of New York and spoke about the difference between logic and virtue-signaling. Logic, he said, is about the facts. Virtue-signaling isn’t.
Take Georgetown, Texas—the Austin suburb that has pledged to use 100 percent renewable electricity. Its promise achieves all the right political goals, but when the facts are examined logically, the pledge is a sham that achieves nothing other than driving up electricity costs for Georgetown residents.
That’s because the renewable energy producers that Georgetown pays produce lots of energy at night, when Georgetown residents aren’t using it, and not enough energy during the day when they are. The result is that Georgetown has to pay its neighbors to take power off its hands at night, and it must buy power from the Texas grid (derived from non-renewable sources) during the day.
If Georgetown truly used only renewable energy, there would be blackouts—and a lot of local officials would be voted out of office.
Another example, DeVore said, is sales from a hydroelectric dam in British Columbia to California, which resulted in “greenwashing”—the practice of pretending that something is more environmentally correct than it really is.
The reality is that renewable energy in California—and everywhere else—is intermittent. A lot of power is produced during those sunny California days, so much that it floods the markets in adjoining states such as Arizona, disrupting the economics of base-load facilities (which are needed to produce power when the sun isn’t shining).
“How long will it be before regulators in those states decide we have to put a price on reliability?” DeVore asked. “Heretofore, we’ve taken reliability for granted.”
In a panel discussion, DeVore noted that for now, traditional energy sources that can be ramped up on demand (dispatchable power) and renewables, which can’t (non-dispatchable power) can’t be compared.
The Honorable Chuck DeVore is Vice President of National Initiatives for the Texas Public Policy Foundation. He previously served three terms in the California State Assembly.