Bill “The” Virgin can’t tell the difference between selling indulgences and energy credits. It makes me sad. But it helps explain why the PI is doing so poorly.
In the 16th- century church, those who were long on cash but short on righteous living could balance the equation by buying indulgences, representing a sort of absolution for sinful behavior.
Indulgences may have disappeared about the time of Martin Luther, but they seem to be alive and thriving in a more contemporary religion — the Church of the Green.
Goddamn Papist environmentalists. I believe Shakespeare said it best in act 3 of King John, “Thou shalt stand cursed and excommunicate./And blessed shall he be that doth revolt/From his allegiance to dirty electricity”
Wells Fargo & Co. announced this week that it is buying renewable energy certificates for 550 million kilowatt-hours of wind energy a year for three years.
The bank said the acquisition makes it the “largest corporate purchaser of renewable energy in the United States,” but it’s hardly the first. Everyone from the National Farmers Union to Audubon New York to Whole Foods to Starbucks to FedEx Kinko’s has done similar deals.
Bastards! Don’t they know that that makes them worse than the Borgias?
And how much of this “clean” wind-generated electricity will Wells Fargo be taking for its own branches, offices and facilities, to supplant supposedly “dirty” power it’s getting from other sources?
Not a single watt.
See, energy is a fungible resource. So it would be horribly inefficient to pipe it right down to the Wells Fargo offices. Instead that energy goes into the grid. Why doesn’t a business writer understand that?
Also, I’d guess that some of that energy, in fact, goes to Wells Fargo. I mean 550,000,000,000 watts in the grid were replaced with ones produced by clean energy, and you think that Wells Fargo didn’t use any of them?
Instead, Wells Fargo and others are buying credits or certificates representing wind-farm electricity already generated and sold to other utilities and customers. The amount of wind generation is tallied by various organizations that act as clearinghouses, and they in turn sell the credits.
See, the corporate money goes to clean energy. It pays the operating costs. It helps defer the startup costs. I’d prefer the government do it, but since they aren’t doing nearly enough, we’ll have to deal with it through the private sector. I thought people like “The” liked the free market. I guess their hatred of the planet trumps that.
But the buyers of those credits aren’t actually reducing their electrical consumption from the local utilities who serve their offices, power that could come from coal, nuclear, natural gas, hydro, or even wind — not through these transactions, anyway.
So what exactly do these transactions contribute — beyond burnishing a company’s environmental reputation?
They put more green energy into the system so that there is less coal nuclear etc. used. It also makes wind competitive with the types of energy that the government subsidizes more.
The answer, not surprisingly, is that they provide a nice subsidy.
A private subsidy. Free market. Christ on the cross, I thought you liked that shit. Also, what editor keeps approving these one sentence paragraphs?
Not surprisingly, a bad one.
“What renewable energy credits do is provide a second revenue stream for wind developers,” a Wells Fargo spokeswoman says. “It encourages development of more wind power” since it “becomes more profitable for them to do so. It pushes the market.”
It’s not as though companies — and consumers, for that matter — lack for opportunities to save energy if they’re so inclined (and given what electrical prices in particular have done in recent years, they have plenty of financial incentive to do so). Wells Fargo’s own announcement cites its record in reducing power consumption at its own buildings, through such measures as installing more-efficient cooling equipment at a facility in Phoenix.
It’s not as though there’s an either or proposition between turning off the light and paying to put more wind power into the fucking grid. “The” is stupider than fuck.
Furthermore, many utilities offer customers the opportunity to pay a little more on their bill so they can go out and buy “green” power, which is typically more expensive than conventional generating sources. That has the added benefit of eliminating the cut the middlemen clearinghouses are taking.
I know, it’s too bad the federal government isn’t doing it, but on the other hand, what the hell are you complaining about?
And it’s not as though wind power has lacked for development incentives without resorting to the gimmickry of renewable energy credits. What with tax credits, technology advances that have driven down the cost of wind power, the cost of other generating fuels going up, and the interest of utilities in diversifying their energy portfolios, wind power is the preferred flavor of the moment.
Well, as I’ve been saying, while there are some incentives from the government, the Bush energy policy has been huge subsidies of coal and nuclear, large subsidies of other existing technologies and table scraps for renewable energy. So yeah, the private sector has to step up.
Puget Sound Energy already has one wind project up and running in Columbia County, and another soon to begin operating in Kittitas County. Wells Fargo’s announcement also cites a direct investment the bank has made in a Texas wind farm.
Good. The pace of change is sped along by private money. Why can’t the goddamn business reporter see that that’s a good thing?
But what about the supposed environmental benefits to the energy-credit program? Wells Fargo says its purchase of wind credits will offset 40 percent of its electrical consumption and prevent the emission of 380,000 tons of carbon dioxide a year.
But if Wells Fargo isn’t actually cutting its consumption of power, and the credits represent power that someone else has already bought (and would have whether or not someone acquired the credits), it’s an incredible stretch to argue that the purchase of credits represents a reduction in emissions. Not one less lump of coal or cubic foot of gas will be burned because of this. The only heat generated is the warm-and-fuzzy feeling the buyer of credits hopes everyone gets from the publicity.
Look, it’s really easy but I’ll type slow just for you. You can conserve energy and change the energy that is consumed to better sources. You said that Wells Fargo was cutting energy usage in this very column, like half a dozen paragraphs ago.
For all its attributes, wind as a means of generating electricity has drawbacks. There are a limited number of places wind will work. In the places it will work, the wind is not steady, and it sometimes doesn’t show up at peak periods of electrical demand when the additional juice is most needed. Utilities and regional transmission grid operators are wrestling with the issue of how to build a system that can handle the peaks of wind generation, but may sit idle when there’s no wind.
And that’s why private money is so important. And it’s still not at all like selling indulgences.
Wind has even generated its own criticisms on environmental grounds, with charges that the spinning blades mar the landscape and will slice and dice birds. While it’s a matter of personal taste, as industrial sites and sights go, windmill farms tend to be intriguing and dramatic additions rather than detriments. And while the bird-mulching scenario makes wind turbines out to be aerial Cuisinarts, in actuality the blades turn so slowly you can easily count the revolutions per minute.
Wind power is a complicated enough topic in assessing its benefits and costs, without having empty-gesture programs such as purchasable credits muddying the waters — or in this case, more properly, clouding the air.
The private sector is bad. Bad bad bad. When our governments refuse to act, we’re just shit out of luck. Thanks for clarifying.