Posts Tagged ‘texas public policy foundation’

Keynote’s promotion of coal leans heavily on unrealistic view of the Texas energy market

In a forum held last Thursday the conservative Texas Public Policy Foundation (TPPF) unveiled a report that attempts to sway the debate about Texas energy policy off its current trajectory – namely ideas put forward by high-profile Republicans officials like Lt. Gov. David Dewhurst and Senator Troy Fraser to help transition the state’s electric supply away from coal and towards natural gas.

Unfortunately, the report wasn’t precisely accurate in its representation of the facts. Here’s perhaps the most important chart in the entire TPPF report (entitled Texas Energy and the Energy of Texas co-authored by Dr. Steven Hayward who was the forum’s keynote speaker) with a couple modifications to try and make it a little more accurate:

Modified chart from TPPF report

As you will note from my (clearly marked) changes, TPPF was not presenting the actual cost of electricity from different fuel sources, but the cost of the fuels themselves. That makes the chart inaccurate since the cost of electricity also depends on things like the cost of building a power plant. Of course that’s a minor expenditure of only several billion dollars in the case of most coal and nuclear plants and hundreds of millions of dollars for natural gas plants.

The TPPF chart was also misleading in three important ways, and one can only really conclude that it was intentionally so. (more…)

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In their recent report on how energy efficiency is bad for consumers in Texas, the Texas Public Policy Foundation took some time to tout nukes.

To distinguish the development of new nuclear reactors from the previous generation which was frought with cost overruns and delays, they claim the following (page 7-8):

“But unlike consumers from the 1980s, today’s consumers won’t be taking on the risk of cost overruns. In fact, they won’t be taking any risk at all. Once the new nuclear plants are complete, the price of the electricity sold from the plants will be determined by market forces. If the price is higher than the cost of the electricity, the plants will be profitable. If not, the plants will lose money. But it is the investors–not consumers–who will bear that risk.”

The investors will bear all the risk? Really? Well, published today is a report from Forbes.com that, in addition to announcing NRG’s dramatic scaling back on nuclear development (by some 95%) quotes NRG Energy’s CEO David Crane as saying he is:

“more comfortable when someone else takes risk.” (as in, the citizens of San Antonio?)

Ouch! I encourage y’all to read the full Forbes article and this one from last December, which notes that a major part of NRG’s strategy is to sell to municipally-owned utilities and electric cooperatives. They are medicine for those that think new nuclear is cost-competitive because they’re all about how dependent nuke developers are on federal loan guarantees (aka subsidies).

EDITOR’S NOTE: Also of interest is an article from this morning’s NYTimes that shows the cost of solar is now cheaper than the cost of nuclear, and a hot-off-the-presses article from Greg Harman at the San Antonio Current saying that with NRG taking so much investment out of developing the plant, and the US gov’t balking at more subsidies for this nuclear pork behemoth, that the only way to make the deal work is to get the governments of France and Japan to also help bail out their investors with, you guessed it- more loan guarantees. How many countries and government bailouts does it take to build a nuke plant in Texas?  Three, apparently.  Ahhh, nuclear power- it’s like fiscal conservative kryptonite. One mention of it and any and all pretense of being pro free market just disappears as they can’t stop lining up to the gravy train of pork, loan guarantees and subsidies. ~~Andy


By promoting cleaner energy, cleaner government, and cleaner air for all Texans, we hope to provide for a healthy place to live and prosper. We are Public Citizen Texas.

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