Ongoing blackouts in New York City offer a wakeup call: If you enjoy electricity, then the Green New Deal isn’t for you.
Thousands in the Big Apple are still dealing with power outages as work continues on the mechanical issues behind last week’s massive blackout in Brooklyn, when over 70,000 customers went without power for hours, and again on Sunday night, which left 50,000 in the dark—in the middle of a heat wave.
For now, the NYC blackouts seem to be isolated incidents relating to mechanical failures. But as the Green New Deal and its brainchildren at the local and state level gain momentum, that could change.
Forcing electricity providers to switch to renewable energy before the technology is ready would jeopardize the reliability of our country’s electric grids—a disaster for the United States’ economy, public health, and quality of life.
Renewable energy has proven too intermittent and unreliable to serve as a primary or sole power source for this simple reason: the wind doesn’t always blow, and the sun doesn’t always shine. Even after tens of billions of dollars of renewable energy subsidies (paid for with our tax dollars), no one has been able to overcome this simple fact.
Even the most advanced battery technology in the world has yet to compensate for the inherent intermittency of wind and solar power. While the Energy Information Administration projects the United States’ battery capacity will more than double in the next few years, it won’t be enough. The entire battery storage capacity installed on the grid worldwide in 2018, around 8 gigawatt-hours, wouldn’t be enough to power New York City for a single hour.
Germany, despite being lauded as a world leader in pursuing renewable energy, can testify to these issues. Germany actually has to pay other countries to take its electricity during periods of oversupply, and it has to subsidize coal plants to fill in when wind and solar don’t produce. This is not quite the green utopia U.S. Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez and her compatriots promise.
Renewable energy, in part because of its unreliability, is also too expensive to be a practical power source. Electricity costs invariably have gone up when governments implement renewable mandates before the technology and markets are ready. Again, we can look to Germany: electricity prices have skyrocketed more than 50%. Here in the United States, a bad renewable mandate led the Georgetown, Texas, municipal utility into $30 million of debt. Electric rates have already been hiked twice this year, and the city admits it won’t be able to meet peak demand once its natural gas contracts expire.
Losing power for a few hours due to a storm or fallen power line is one thing; not being able to count on electricity when and where you need it is a whole different story. Reliable electricity is more than a convenience; it’s essential to our public health and safety.
When Venezuela endured a week-long nationwide power outage, at least 43 people died, many because local hospitals couldn’t provide life-saving treatment without electricity. People were forced to scavenge for food and drink unsanitary water or pay exorbitant costs for bottled water. One woman described it as a return to the Middle Ages.
Imagine an America where our businesses, banks, hospitals, schools, and law enforcement can’t depend on electricity when and where they need it. That’s the future the Green New Deal and similarly costly proposals in over 400 cities have to offer, and for no environmental benefit. Even banning all fossil fuel use in the United States by 2030 would only reduce global temperatures by 0.13 degrees in 2100.
The reliability, affordability, and abundance of fossil fuels have driven the most significant improvements in human health and well-being in recorded history. Recklessly banning oil, natural gas, and coal for political points would jeopardize that progress and put not just our economy, but our lives, at the mercy of the weather.