Cruel summer

03Sep21

August was not a good month for those who believe they have the power to control the weather.

Things started to go downhill on Aug. 12, when those climate deniers at the Department of Public Utilities hastened the incineration of the planet by approving Project 2015A.

Project 2015A a natural gas-fired plant to be sited in Peabody that would assure that there’s enough electricity to keep the lights on and the air conditioning running at times of peak demand.

MMWEC, a consortium of nonprofit public power companies that includes the Wakefield Municipal Gas & Light Department, will build and operate the backup plant during the estimated 239 hours a year that it will be needed to meet peak demand.

Meanwhile, MMWEC has been bending over backwards to add more and more renewables to its energy portfolio, which is a big reason why Project 2015A is needed to assure a energy reliability and stable electric rates.

But that’s not good enough for environmental activists, who don’t want to burn a single molecule of fossil fuels for any reason, ever.

“There’s no excuse for continuing to burn fossil fuels,” said an opponent of Project 2015A. “We need a utility of the future, not the past.”

Again, the plant will run about 239 hours a year and will burn natural gas, not coal or oil.

But according to the Massachusetts Climate Action Network, by approving this “dirty facility,” the DPU “has abandoned their mission to promote equity and emissions reductions.”

Actually, according to it’s web site, “The mission of the DPU is to ensure that consumers’ rights are protected, and that utility companies are providing the most reliable service at the lowest possible cost.”

OK fine, but what about “environmental justice communities?”

There was more bad news just one day after the DPU decision, when the Boston Globe published a front-page story headlined, “Undesirable features stall rise of electric cars.”

Electric vehicles are too expensive and take too long to charge, the Aug. 13 Globe article points out, for them to have much appeal to a nation of committed road trippers.

Wait a second – when did Globe reporters start watching Fox News?

There are too few charging stations and installing enough of them to support just half a million EVs, the Globe article continues, would require infrastructure upgrades by utility companies on the order of $3 billion.

“That could translate into higher electric bills for ratepayers, even those who don’t own electric cars,” the Globe story adds.

And to electrify all the cars on the road, the Globe article continues, the nation’s power plants would need to double their electricity output.

Where’s all that electricity going to come from?

According to the U.S Energy Information Administration, wind and solar combined to generate less than 11 percent of the nation’s electricity in 2020. Hydropower added another 7 percent. Nuclear provided about 20 percent, but by far the largest single source of energy for electricity generation in the U.S. comes from fossil fuels at about 60 percent.

So, you can burn it in your internal combustion vehicle or you can burn it to generate the electricity to charge your $80,000 Tesla.

To be fair, not all electric cars are that expensive. You can buy a new Chevy Bolt for “only” $37,500. Then you can drive it home and watch it explode in your driveway.

On Aug. 20, General Motors announced that it is recalling all Chevrolet Bolt electric vehicles sold worldwide to fix a battery problem that could cause fires. The latest recall covers about 73,000 Bolts from the 2019 through 2022 model years on top of a previous recall of 69,000 older Bolts.

Oopsie!

Would catching fire be one of those “undesirable features” described in the Globe headline?

“The recall raises questions about lithium-ion batteries, which now are used in nearly all electric vehicles,” the Boston Herald reported.

Ya think?

Is it any wonder that there are only 21,000 electric vehicles on the road in Massachusetts? That’s less than the population of Wakefield.

One of Wakefield’s 69 electric vehicle owners recently tried to tell me that I would be joining the ranks of EV drivers within five years.

I should have made that bet.

[This column originally appeared in the September 2, 2021 Wakefield Daily Item.]



8 Responses to “Cruel summer”

  1. 1 John Breithaupt

    No question that we have a long way to go before electric cars are a practical alternative to cars that burn fossil fuels. There’s also no question that we’ve got to make green technologies work. Pumping 40 billion tons of CO2 into the atmosphere every year is not a good idea. This planet is the only place in the universe that we will ever be able to call home. We really don’t want to trash it beyond repair.

    • 2 Ed

      In Salem, back in 1692, they hung witches for the same reason.

      Where I believe in Jesus Christ, you believe in Global Warming – and wish to inpose your religion on everyone else.

      That said, the real effort should be superconductors because we lose half of the electricity generated.

  2. 3 Ed

    The problem I have is the asinine decision not to have the backup oil tank.

    We live in an earthquake zone – there was a serious one in 1755. An earthquake will break gas pipes and then wh

  3. 5 Anthony Antetomasio

    I would have jumped at that bet too except I know about that wrecking crew in the State House known as the Great & General Court. I’d have been concerned about a state law outlawing gasoline engines to save the planet. Exceptions for “reason” of course. They decide what reason is reasonable.

    • 6 Ed

      Just for fun, look at the damage China does in making these vehicles, starting with the lithium.

  4. 7 WaffleCat

    There is “car guy” in the WH and that bet was you’ll be working for the Post Office, This country is a clown show and ultimately it’s the low info voters to blame.

  5. 8 Meredith Zahlaway

    I so agree with your logic, Mark!!

    Sent from my iPhone

    >


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