Howard County Maryland Blog

Local Politics and Current Events

Will we get an energy bill?

Posted by David Keelan on Friday, June 15, 2007

The Enviromental News Network had this article that does a very good job of allowing both sides of the energy bill debate present their issues.  People are beginning to doubt that we will get a bill before the July 4th recess.

After reading it once it comes down to this.

Democrat sponsors want energy companies to generate 15% of their power from renewable sources and are offering $13.7B in tax breaks for such generation – but also for other things so they are not dedicating all this funding to offset these costs.

The bill would require power companies to increase use of wind turbines, solar panels, biomass, geothermal energy or other renewable sources to produce at least 15 percent of their electricity by 2020. Only about 2.4 percent of the country’s electricity is produced that way now.

Well one has to like that.  Good goal.  What will it cost?

That is exactly what the GOP is concerned about.

Opponents argued that some regions of the country couldn’t meet the requirement and that it would cause electricity prices to increase in those areas, especially across the South.

So the GOP tried to add a measure that would allow electric companies to meet these standards by constructing nuclear power plants.  The amendment was defeated.  Why?

There is a lot of debate on this issue.  Can the South afford this bill and do they have the natural resources to generate 15% of their electricity this way?  Yes they do!  No they don’t!  It is like watching my kids.

The GOP is afraid that these utilities would end up buying credits to meet their obiligations.  Current cost is $.02 per kilowatt-hour.  Hmmm.  I wonder who stable that price is.  I doubt it is stable at all.  Look at California and Europe.  I know I am comparing carbon and sulfer dioxide trading.  Those commodities swing wildy in valuation and are unpredictable – we are talking 450% flucutations – some say even higher.  So I don’t see that as a viable option.

The Committee Chairman disputes this with his own facts and figures citing a report that would raise prices by only 1% and touting the technological advances that industry would make to meet this challenge.

The bill also attempts to increase mileage standards over and above what was agreed upon in the last energy bill.  I honestly think that the Democrats should give that a rest.  The Senate had a hard battle over that last time and they got something done.  No need to get bogged down in that debate again, and the Senate owes the auto industry some predictablity.

In addition, Virginia’s senior Senator, Mr. Warner, wants the Senate to allow Virginia to drill for natural gas off their coastline.  No way says NJ Sen. Robert Menendez, saying it would “cause a ripple effect … and the consequences can be very significant.” He added, “This would leave other states helpless. ”  The article doesn’t explain what the hell he means.

Anyway, I have no real stake in this bill except I hope they come up with a good bill.

The reason I posted this is because it is the first time I actually enjoyed reading a news report on the energy bill debate.  They are usually dry and focus on the partisanship of the different sides.  This was well written and really didn’t have any bones to pick.  Just the facts.

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