Years of Living Dangerously Series Debunked: Season 2, Episode 1

“A Race Against Time”

We begin with former late night host David Letterman in India joking about its electricity infrastructure. And yes, the electricity infrastructure in India definitely has to be modernized. It’s amazing that it even works in its present state (mostly via coal). Letterman asks himself whether the Indian prime minister can pull off a solar revolution before it’s too late. Ah yes, the incessant sound of environmental fear mongering of the so-called carbon apocalypse.

We then move to actress Cecily Strong talking with former CEO of NRG Energy David Crane about the protests against solar energy. And yes, Big Energy is a big whale. But former US President Barak Obama and current Prime Minister of Canada Justin Trudeau both tip their hats off to them via energy policies. [1] [2] [3] [4] [5] [6] [7] While Strong and Crane want you to believe that the main problem is Big Energy, the real problem is Big Government allowing Big Energy to do what they please.

Back in India, Letterman is drying his beard in a hotel room when the power goes out. He’s flabbergasted that India has power outages. Really? The electricity infrastructure is complete garbage. How can you be surprised?

Letterman then meets with filmmaker Iqbal Kidwai to investigate generators throughout New Delhi. Yes, generators on the roof aren’t exactly efficient or sustainable. But it’s India. What do you expect?

While many see India as somewhere between developing and developed, it definitely leans on the developing side. Hundreds of millions of people don’t have electricity and live in complete poverty. Millions are burning kerosene, kindling, and cow dung for heat and cooking. India is a developing nation. To add insult to injury, there’s a large super-rich class in India that live a life of super excess. [8] [9] Mass inequality is a characteristic of developing nation status.

I like how Letterman says that diesel generators emit carbon dioxide. In reality, the real problem with diesel generators isn’t carbon dioxide. The problem is the life-choking particulate matter it gives off. Yet Letterman doesn’t mention this. That’s not accidental. That’s intentional.

Letterman questions why India can’t use a better/cleaner source of energy. It’s not rocket science. It’s because their consumption is going through the roof. At their current low rates of efficiency, solar and wind can’t provide enough power for all of India. Leonardo DiCaprio has a similar conversation about this very matter (see Before the Flood Completely Debunked).

Strong visits Sunrun (a solar energy company) as it shuts down its operations in Nevada. Why? Because solar (at its current level) is inefficient. Unfocused solar panels have an efficiency rate of 34.5%. [10] Even Elon Musk’s Solar City can’t survive on its own. Hence, the need for Musk to save it by buying it out and making it a subsidiary of Tesla. If climate change believers want solar to become the dominant energy, they have to start thinking above the clouds (see Oil, The 4th Renewable Resource).

Is it unethical for Big Energy to cancel solar incentives? Again, it’s Big Energy. What do you expect? A loving and guiding hand toward a new era? Of course not. Big energy will never be your friend. In Ontario, the Ontario provincial government has to step in to block Hydro One from cutting electricity for customers with outstanding balances during winter. [11] [12] [13] Hydro One (like all Big Energy corporations), see you as cattle to be milked for everything you have. There’s no love and compassion. There’s only exploitation.

While it’s tragic that Sunrun has to lay off its employees due to Big Energy, that’s because solar (at its current level) only works with substantial government incentives. If your company only makes a profit because of government incentives, your business model is wrong.

Unfortunately, do-gooder liberals and environmentalists can’t see this and create the companies anyways. As my mother tells me as a child, “you gonna learn the hard way.” And sometimes this is the best way to learn. Failing can be a powerful life lesson if you have the correct attitude.

Unfortunately, residents and consumers get angry, protest, and complain about their solar fees. I feel for them. But you have to think of the long-term consequences and the potential reactions from Big Energy. Big Energy isn’t a small million-dollar industry. It’s a for-profit multitrillion-dollar industry. If you think that it’s just going to roll over because you put up a few solar panels on your roof…you’re deluding yourself.

And I’m all for equalizing the playing field. I believe that all subsidies for Big Energy and renewables should be cut and let the market price stand. In order to truly move forward in energy, governments have to be brave enough to break the backs of Big Energy while entrepreneurs create better forms of energy.

Sunrun’s stock is worth around $5.00 (USD) at the time of publication. In March 2017 they attempted to raise $200 million in funding via non-recourse debt. [14] Though Sunrun as a whole is doing well, without government incentives their future seems bleak.

Getting back to the issue, yes, the Nevada Public Utilities Commission support for Big Energy is stacked with people who have conflicts of interests. For people who can see outside their ideological bubble, this shouldn’t be a surprise. Remember, Big Energy is a for-profit industry. It’s not going to give solar companies a break or a friendly shoulder to cry on.

Strong ends with a conspiracy against roof-top solar energy. It’s not a conspiracy. It’s just the reality of Big Energy. From the view of a conspiracy theorist, it would be odd for Big Energy to roll over and play nice with solar and wind companies.

Back in India, Letterman goes off the grid. It shouldn’t be a surprise for Letterman that hundreds of millions of people in India live on kindling, kerosene, or cow dung for their energy. But when you’ve been in the Hollywood bubble for so long, the reality outside of it seems abnormal. I don’t recall Letterman ever mentioning the plight of hundreds of millions of Indian people on his late night talk show.

Again, there are people in India who have grown up their entire lives without electricity. Why? Aside from incompetence, arrogance, and corruption, the caste system is still alive and well in India. And why does it continue to exist in the 21st century? Religion, specifically Hindu ideologies. Be content at your caste level and maybe you’ll get better luck in a future life.

The fact that Strong is surprised that Big Energy CEOs want to kill rooftop solar energy is characteristic of the Hollywood bubble and the ideological climate change bubble. Solar and wind are a no-brainer. Everyone will have to adopt it. Yah…no.

And for Californians who think that they’re above the rest of humanity, your state gets 50% of its electricity from natural gas and coal in 2015. [15] Throw in nuclear at you’re at 59.20. [15] Solar only accounts for 6% of the electricity generation in California. [15] Perhaps Californians should look at their own energy sources before judging others.

And yes, of course, Big Energy and their lobbyists have massive influence. Why? Because they essentially control the electricity/heat switch. If they want everyone to go back to the dark ages, they can. That’s serious power.

Strong reveals that Big Energy is paying lobbyists to sit on their ass instead of working for renewable energy corporations. Sorry, but that’s not illegal. It’s just an easy paycheck.

Strong asks the question of how solar is supposed to compete with that? Easy. Efficiency. If you know how to get unfocused rooftop solar energy to an efficiency rate above 70%, the climate change movement will throw hundreds of millions of dollars your way and worship you as a quasi-god, like they do of Elon Musk.

It’s nice that OMC (a solar energy company in India) is providing solar energy, but it’s only to 200 residential homes and a few businesses. There’s no way you can scale that up to 10,000. Let alone 100 million poor people in India. But let’s pretend that solar panels do have a 70% efficiency rate. What about storage? Batteries are still a 19th-century invention. While they’re significantly better today, it’s not good enough to store regular solar energy, [16] [17] let alone our imaginary 70% ones.

To be fair, John Goodenough, the genius inventor of the lithium battery, creates a new solid state battery in March 2017. [18] While the commercialization process is long, I’m in favor of any increase in the rate of efficiency for anything (within ethics of course).

David Letterman talks to Indian Minister of Energy/Power Piyush Goyal. As Letterman lectures him on the horrible aspects of coal, Goyal shows Letterman pictures of downtown areas across the world all lit up in the middle of the night. Goyal says that they have the right to waste electricity just as other Western-European (WE) nations do. And that’s correct. All of us in North American live a life of excess, be it food, electricity, or just stuff.

Later on, Goyal shows Letterman a large solar installation. Letterman says that the Indian government is trying to squeeze solar panels on every parcel of unused land. Yah…no. That’s not going to work. First of all, the reason why solar requires so many panels is that of the low unfocused efficiency rate. And that low-efficiency rate is an example of a lack of innovation.

Secondly, India’s population is only growing and if the choice is a new high rise and shopping mall vs. a solar field, the high rise and mall will always win out in the end. As I mention time and time again, yes, solar is a good idea in theory, but until the efficiency rate of the solar panels and batteries increases, it’s not practical.

Letterman then looks up articles of India’s commitment to solar. In reality, it’s just for show. If you take a look at India’s power generation, you’ll see that solar and wind isn’t even mentioned (not even in the asterisk notes). [19] Coal, natural gas, and oil make up 68.3%. [19] And solar and wind don’t even make up the rest. All solar and wind talk in India is just to appease environmentalists, climate change believers, and WE governments.

Strong takes her investigation to Florida where utility companies are trying to pass a devious measure to block rooftop solar installation. Luckily the measure doesn’t win enough support (only 51%. It needs 60% to pass). [20] A few months earlier in August 2016, the people of Florida pass Amendment 4, tax breaks for people who install solar panels. [21] While the tax breaks are annoying, I don’t mind that much because the playing field isn’t equal.

Letterman talks with the former US ambassador to India Richard Verma. Verma says that the cost of India meeting their solar targets is around $100 billion (I believe USD). But this is the short-sighted nature of environmentalists and climate change believers. While hundreds of millions of Indians will be happy with a bit of electricity in the beginning, eventually they’ll demand the same amount of electricity that people in WE countries enjoy. And India doesn’t have that kind of capacity, nor is it close (even with $100 billion investment in solar).

The fact that Florida utility companies try to smear former State Senator Nancy Argenziano in the past only shows that Big Energy or Big Anything for that matter is not your friend. They only see you as cattle to be milked. Changing from traditional energy sources to solar is like going from heavy meat eating to vegan. And Big Energy or Big Ag can’t have that.

Strong talks to COO of Jetro Restaurant Depot Peter Claro and Chairman of Energy & Finance for New York State Richard L. Kauffman. Claro says that 40% of his electricity generation comes from solar. That’s impressive.

While some will lament the evil utility companies and crooked politicians in Florida, or the lack of solar energy investments in India, let me tell you of Ontario’s solar/green energy experiment…gone bad.

It begins in 2003 with the provincial election of Dalton McGuinty and his Liberal government. McGuinty promises to shut down coal plants by 2007. Of course, the date isn’t realistic and the last coal plant in Ontario shuts down in 2014.

The nightmare continues in 2009 with Ontario’s Green Energy and Green Economy Act. People ask the question, will the cost of electricity increase in Ontario because of these acts? Of course not…says incompetent liberals. Unfortunately, such a claim has no basis in reality.

As time goes by the price of electricity increases more than the rate of inflation. At this point, rational politicians would stop and reevaluate, but not the Ontario Liberal government. No, they push ahead with the closure of all coal plants in Ontario in 2014.

In December 2015, Canada’s auditor general shows that Ontario’s green energy program is a fiasco:

Ontario’s electricity consumers are being zapped for tens of billions of dollars due to overpriced green energy, poor government planning, and shoddy service from Hydro One says auditor general Bonnie Lysyk.

In her annual report, she concluded ratepayers forked out $37 billion more than necessary from 2006 to 2014 and will spend an additional $133 billion by 2032 due to global adjustment electricity fees on hydro bills. [22]

That’s a cost of $170 billion (CAD) for Ontario’s green energy program. And who will be paying this current and future bill? Ontario taxpayers.

As electricity prices continue to skyrocket, the Ontario Liberal government finally decides to put the brakes on its green energy programs. In September 2016 they terminate the plans to buy more wind and solar energy. [23] Unfortunately, it’s too little too late. People in Ontario who take advantage of the green energy programs in the past have 20-year contracts to supply Ontario with renewable energy at super high fixed rates.

Today and in the future, Ontario residents will continue to pay super high prices for electricity with businesses moving out of the province. [24] [25] [26]

And the solution by the Ontario Liberal government? Spread out the costs over 20 years. [27] [28] Basically, current Ontario residents are hurting from the high price of electricity and the insane housing market. But future Ontario residents are completely screwed. Even the Financial Accountability Officer’s report says that the plan is nonsense:

In a 15-page report released Wednesday, Financial Accountability Officer Stephen LeClair said the scheme will cost the province $45 billion over the next 29 years while saving ratepayers $24 billion for a $21-billion net expense.

But LeClair warned his estimates are only applicable if “the province is able to achieve and maintain a balanced budget over 29 years.” The cost of the subsidy could balloon to between $69 billion and $93 billion if the government has to borrow to pay for it. [29]

Ontario’s failed green energy experiment shows the real picture of today’s green energy programs. I suggest that all international, national, and state governments look at Ontario as an example before moving forward with ideological pie in the sky green energy programs.

References:

[1] Harris, Kathleen. Auditor general questions Canada’s plan to phase out fossil fuel subsidies. CBC News. May 16, 2017.

[2] Milman, Oliver. Canada gives $3.3bn subsidies to fossil fuel producers despite climate pledge. Guardian. November 15, 2016.

[3] Shalev, Asaf, et al. How Obama’s climate change legacy is weakened by US investment in dirty fuel. Guardian. November 30, 2016.

[4] Bookbinder, David. Obama really had a chance to fight climate change. He blew it. Vox. April 29, 2017.

[5] Tasker, John Paul. Trudeau cabinet approves Trans Mountain, Line 3 pipelines, rejects Northern Gateway. CBC News. November 29, 2016.

[6] Lambert, Steve. Trudeau town hall in Winnipeg faces pipeline protestors. Canadian Press. January 27, 2017.

[7] Tasker, John Paul. Trudeau welcomes Trump’s Keystone XL decision. CBC News. January 24, 2017.

[8] Anand, Shefali. How India’s Super-Rich Spend Their Money. Wall Street Journal. June 7, 2011.

[9] Tandon, Suneera. Since 2000, India’s super-rich population has grown by nearly 500%. Quartz. May 11, 2016.

[10] Da Silva, Wilson. A milestone in solar cell efficiency by UNSW engineers. UNSW Sydney. May 17, 2016.

[11] Brennan, Richard J. Ombudsman blasts Hydro One for threatening to leave customers in the cold. Toronto Star. March 11, 2015.

[12] Ferguson, Rob. Hydro One to reconnect 1,400 customers cut off for nonpayment. Toronto Star. December 7, 2016.

[13] Jones, Allison. Ontario legislature passes a bill to end winter hydro disconnections. Canadian Press. February 22, 2017.

[14] Eckhouse, Brian. Sunrun Said to Seek $200 Million in Debt for Rooftop Solar. Bloomberg. March 31, 2017.

[15] 2015 Total System Electric Generation. California Energy Commission. July 11, 2016.

[16] Solar panels plus lead-acid batteries to increase electricity self-sufficiency. Phys.org. September 12, 2016.

[17] Chemist says trapped electrons to blame for the lack of battery efficiency. Phys.org. June 28, 2016.

[18] Tirone, Jonathan. Google’s Schmidt Flags Promise in New Goodenough Battery. Bloomberg. March 14, 2017.

[19] Power Sector at a Glance ALL INDIA (/en/content/power-sector-glance-all-india). The Government of India Ministry of Power. Updated: April 27, 2017.

[20] Florida’s Solar Amendment Doesn’t Make The Cut. CBS Miami. November 8, 2016.

[21] Florida Voters Pass Amendment 4; Tax Breaks For Solar Energy. CBS Miami & Associated Press. August 30, 2016.

[22] Ferguson, Rob and Benzie, Robert. Ontarians paid $37 billion extra for electricity from 2006-14, says auditor general Bonnie Lysyk. Toronto Star. December 2, 2015.

[23] Ferguson, Rob. Ontario government scraps plan for $3.8 billion in renewable energy projects. Toronto Star. September 27, 2016.

[24] McKenna, Barrie. Ontario drives manufacturers away with overpriced electricity. Globe and Mail. October 13, 2013.

[25] Selley, Chris. Chris Selley: Faced with soaring energy bills, Ontario businesses demand ‘love’ from Queen’s Park. National Post. December 20, 2016.

[26] Kuitenbrouwer, Peter. Ontario manufacturers eye greener pastures stateside as hydro rates go through the roof. Financial Post. March 16, 2017.

[27] Crawley, Mike. Hydro rates to drop 17%, but Ontarians will pay for it later. CBC News. March 2, 2017.

[28] Urback, Robyn. Why pay for Ontario’s hydro mistakes now when we can pay (more) for them later?: Robyn Urback. CBC News. March 2, 2017.

[29] Benzie, Robert. Hydro rate-cut will ultimately cost $21B, watchdog warns. Toronto Star. May 24, 2017.

Comments (4)

  • Avatar

    Spurwing Plover

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    Its always incredible the leingths liberals will go to so the want america to copy some backward nations and all go live is a miserble exitence all over this Global Warming/Climate Change poppycock bull twaddle

  • Avatar

    Sonnyhill

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    I remember a line from the lead actor from Slum Dog Millionaire when questioned if Indian slums were really as bad as depicted in the movie. He answered “As a child, I would have to walk 20 miles to find a slum that nice” . Letterman should be familiar that quote. He is also playing stupid to suggest that green energy will raise India’s living standards.

  • Avatar

    Rajiv Butala

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    Clearly, the name suggest this article is written by a peaceful follower of Islam, Shawn Alli.
    His hatred for India and Hinduism is shown clearly in this article. People like this should not be allowed to spew their hatred in technical journals / science matters.

    • Avatar

      Sonnyhill

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      Take your ancient cultural war outside. The article is about solar electricity’s shortcomings. It won’t power India into the 20th century, let alone this one.

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