Presumptive Republican presidential nominee Mitt Romney was in Craig, Colo., this morning, reminding Coloradans (as though we needed reminding) of the value of coal as a source of electricity.
In Colorado this past legislative session, HB12-1160 would have added “methane gas captured from active and inactive coal mines to the definition of ‘biomass’ for purposes of the renewable energy standard.” It would have made coal more competitive and, in the process, lowered the horrendous cost impacts of the state’s renewable energy standard, now 10 percent and headed higher. HB12-1160 passed out of the Republican-controlled House, but was killed in the Democrat-controlled Senate.
So it’s worth recalling what state Rep. Max Tyler, D-Lakewood, said Feb. 27 on the House floor, opposing the bill…
“So many people are currently putting distributed systems in. Now, not only is solar currently under the standard, it has been a real impetus for wind power. Wind power, by the way, if you buy wind power today on a 20-year contract, it is competitive and cheaper than coal-fired plants. It’s competitive and cheaper than natural gas plants. So it has had the impact of bringing these renewable energy sources down to a cost where it’s grid-compatible and grid-competitive.”
Recently on this channel, we showed U.S. Sen. Mark Udall, D-Colo., explaining that Colorado’s renewable electricity standard had been a “great success.” Debatable as that proposition is, his follow-up comments suggest wind as a cost-competitive alternative to coal energy. Tyler repeating the same error suggests that it’s becoming part of the lefty mythology about renewable energy.
There’s so much information contradicting this assertion that we are tempted to reverse the usual tropes about flat-earthers, but we’ll settle for the Congressional Budget Office, the Energy Information Agency, and the invaluable Institute for Energy Research. Between wind’s unreliability, the need to have backup generation on-hand, and the need to power those generators up and down on demand, and wind’s unfortunate tendency to produce surges that result in the producers paying people to take their energy, American Enterprise Institute research estimates that by 2016, the all-in cost of wind generation per megawatt hour may be five times that of coal.
Tyler’s district contains NREL, the National Renewable Energy Lab, making Tyler’s irrational support for wind subsidies a shining example of one of the oldest reasons for ignoring economics – the subsidies hiding them make them easy to ignore.
If you need more, though, you can see View From a Height.