Green energy in a coal state: the struggle to bring solar jobs to West VirginiaAnd it was.
The Guardian story twisted facts like pretzels.
From the Guardian:
The economic picture of West Virginia is bleak. The Mountain State has the nation’s seventh-highest poverty rate. The number of coal jobs dropped from nearly 25,000 in 2011 to fewer than 11,500 in the third quarter of 2016. And those numbers only represent mining itself. When mines shut down, it affects everything – local businesses that serve the industry’s employees and their families lose revenue and government services are hurt by a shrinking tax base.
Automation and less labor-intensive extraction methods such as strip mining and mountaintop removal caused job losses for decades, but stricter environmental regulations and a boom in natural gas, which made it cheaper than coal, have contributed to steeper job cuts in recent years, says Brian Lego, a research assistant professor who studies the coal-mining industry at West Virginia University. Coal production fell from 158 million tons in 2008 to 80 million tons in 2016, Lego says.So production fell in half, and jobs fell in half, but it was "automation and less labor-intensive extraction methods such as strip mining and mountaintop removal caused job losses for decades."
I might add that "strip mining and mountaintop removal" are the same thing in West Virginia.
The reason production fell in half is Barack Obama's inane War on Coal because burning it produces carbon dioxide.
Carbon dioxide is a nutrient, not a pollutant. Only an imbecile or someone getting government grants would say otherwise.
The idea that you can replace $70,000-a-year coal mining jobs with solar jobs is silly.
The fact is that after 50 years of mining and burning coal to produce energy, mankind is very, very efficient in its use of coal. Scrubbers reduce real pollution by 95% to 99% depending on which pollutant one is discussing.
Just 80,000 coal miners produce 33% of the nation's electricity. Add ancillary jobs and just under a million people produce the nation's coal.
Solar energy requires 173,807 workers to produce less than 1% of the nation's electricity.
Thus to produce as much energy as coal does, the solar industry would need nearly six times as many workers -- 5,735,631 to be exact.
That is an inefficient system because the solar industry does not seek profits.
Big Solar has no incentive to be more efficient -- or to kill fewer birds and bats in the process.
Big Solar lives on subsidies -- a corporate welfare case.
Benjamin Zycher of the American Enterprise Institute wrote in Forbes:
Residential consumers of electricity in California pay almost 17 cents per kilowatt-hour (kWh), a price higher than those of every other state in the lower 48, except New York and five of the New England states. The average for the nation as a whole is about 12.7 cents per kWh. Neighboring states in the Pacific Northwest, the Mountain region and the Southwest enjoy rates lower than California’s by about 30-45%, and even California’s high prices obscure a number of costs hidden -- but not avoided -- with various tax and regulatory policies.
One such policy is “net metering,” an important system of shifting the costs of rooftop (“photovoltaic”) solar systems onto the consumers of electricity generally, with adverse implications for costs and for the future reliability of the electric grid. The California Public Utilities Commission has an opportunity to impose limits on this cost shifting system.
How does net metering work? Power consumers who install solar panels--large subsidies are paid for such installations--receive a credit for the power that they produce but do not consume. The excess electricity is transferred into the power grid for use by other consumers, and the owners of the solar systems receive a credit for the excess power, paying only for their “net” electricity consumption.
Subsidizing the rich
So what’s the problem? First, the credit paid in California for the excess solar power is far higher than the cost of alternative electricity sources, usually from utilities or from the spot power market. Consumers without such solar installations have to finance that excessively expensive electricity, so that overall power prices are forced above the level that would prevail in the absence of the net metering system. This system, by the way, subsidizes the affluent (median income of those installing solar systems: $91,210) at the expense of all other power consumers (median of $67,821), an embarrassing reality from which the supporters of the net-metering system prefer to avert their eyes.
Second, reliability is a hugely valuable attribute of power systems; no one likes blackouts. Electricity bills reflect the cost of that reliability in the form of “capacity” charges, that is, the part of the bill covering the cost of the physical system and its spare capacity, before fuel expenses and other such generation costs. People who install solar systems benefit from the reliability provided by the grid -- they consume conventional power at night and at other times that the sun fails to shine -- but because they pay only for their “net” power consumption, they get a free ride on the cost of the generation equipment and other capital that yield the reliability upon which they depend. The problem is that the free ride is not free: Other consumers have to pay for it.Of all the "alternative energy" schemes out there, solar power is the only one that makes sense. However, it will remain expensive and inefficient as long as the motive for companies remains subsidies, not profits.
The idea that you can replace coal with solar energy as long as there are subsidies is irrational.
Which pretty much describes stories on the United States of America in the Guardian.
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