Friday, November 30, 2012

Response to Sec Walker DCED comments on energy


I recently read your article titled ‘DCED's Alan Walker on why coal's not dead, solar's not hot, and all that gas’.  Frankly I am baffled by Secretary Walker’s comments they contradict themselves within the same article and are woefully uninformed.  

He mentions Coal can be burned as cleanly as gas using new technologies which is completely false.  There is no more than theory in clean coal technologies and it is largely based on carbon capture and sequestering which is technology that could be used in gas or any combustion to make its burning even ‘cleaner’. Coal can never burn as clean as gas and if by some off chance you found a way to do it, you could never extract coal from the earth cleanly or more cheaply than gas.  I heard lots of adds this election cycle condemning the EPA for having a ‘War on Coal’ but it is Gas that is waging a war on coal just like the automobile waged war on the horse and buggy…outdated technology dies and is replaced by better faster cheaper every day.  Coal had a good run but its time has come.

He contradicts himself saying we cannot invest in alternative energies but then talks about the Cracker plant which is going to receive $1.4 BILLION in tax incentives from PA taxpayers to create roughly 500 full time jobs.    I am pretty sure Shell and gas are being ‘picked’ here.  

I think the Secretary and our Governor need to review just where state and Federal incentives go.  Over 10X more incentives or taxpayer redistributed funds, go to Fossil Fuels like Gas, Oil, and Coal than all alternative energies combined.  I find if amusing how politicians condemn investments in alternative energies while they pass on land grants, tax credits, grants, subsidized loans etc on to oil, gas and coal while they report billions in profit each year.  Why exactly do they need any incentive or any of my tax money if they already have billions in profits?

Don’t get me wrong, I am all for shale done responsibly and the cracker plant.  I just want the hypocrisy of the state government to stop.  The state throws money at oil, coal and gas and these companies throw money at the politicians for reelection campaigns and all the while they point at alternative energies and say they are not willing to support the government picking winners…

So let’s even the playing field then.  Either the state should stop all incentives to all energies or it should increase alternative energy investments 10X and then it can tell us with a straight face that it is no longer picking winners.

His comments on Solar are particularly irritating to me since this is my business.  His comments on the state SREC’s are infuriating.  He responds by saying we don’t have enough sun?  AEPS is the core legislation in all alternative energies and is designed to replace all incentives with a market driven supply demand model but it has nothing to do with how much sun we have.  PA’s worst sun is better than Germany’s best sun and Germany produces far more solar than anywhere in the world.  PA has plenty of sun what it needs is some education for its leadership.

AEPS which SRECs fall under is truly an inspired set of legislation which has been adopted by roughly 1/3 of the US states since our adoption and has been considered for nationwide adoption as a common sense market driven alternative to a carbon tax.  However, it has a couple small holes in our PA version, one of which allows other states to ‘dump’ their SREC’s into PA from as far away as Illinois.  In other words PA rate payers are paying for solar investment in at least 13 other states instead of PA.  

In short, PA adopted the legislation first and allowed all states that followed to sell their SREC’s to PA and PA can sell SREC’s to all states.  Then all states who have followed have allowed their states to continue to sell to PA but have excluded PA from being able to sell SREC’s to their state.  So they wrote their legislation with a ‘closed border’ policy but still allow their state to take advantage of our ‘open border’ policy.  We have asked for the legislature to alter this legislation to close the state border so our policy matches our neighbors and protects PA ratepayer and PA jobs but Gov. Corbett has threatened to veto the legislation because he states it will violate the commerce clause of the constitution.  This is laughable because the only states that would be affected are already ‘violating’ this clause by his own definition and disenfranchising his own constituents.  

Secretary Walker says the state should ‘facilitate’ job growth rather than invest in the energy sector.  I would like to remind him that PA had 6000 solar jobs prior to the crash of the SREC market due to dumping.  It now has about half that number and will soon have less as companies move out of state.  The state could easily remedy this by simply closing the border to out of state dumping, protecting PA rate payers from out of state exploitation and allowing the PA Solar industry to recover  in a market driven way.  It would not be a boon to us but it would at least stop the hemorrhaging and allow us to compete on equal playing field to our surrounding states.

If the Secretary is serious about creating jobs in PA, he can feel free to contact me and I will lay out a path for him showing how the right solar policy can create as many jobs as the gas industry.

Joe Morinville
Energy Independent Solutions
535 Clever Road
McKee’s Rocks, PA 15136
(888) OFF OIL1

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