Archived Story

Change can be one step at a time

Published 11:13am Thursday, August 22, 2013

It appears that the “powers that be” in Washington, DC have all intentions of taking the American people down a dead-end road by shoving unreliable, high-cost, unproven renewable energy down our throats.

The global warming alarmists have already had to change their rhetorical spiel from global warming to global climate change; because global temperatures have been declining for more than 10 years and are projected to continue that trend for at least the next couple of decades.

When I speak of global warming alarmists, I am talking about the self-interested political zealots we hear espousing their blather whenever they find an unoccupied soap box.

Government-funded alarmists seeking to justify wildly expanded regulatory and taxation powers for government bodies. With tactics like the secret science currently being used by the EPA (Energy Production Assassins) to justify costly regulation changes, the ‘powers that be’ have shown they will stop at nothing to achieve their goals.

In previous letters I’ve discussed some problems that can occur when using an energy source that is not continuously available due to some factor outside direct control. Unlike other commodities, electricity cannot be stored economically, so generation must match consumption on a real-time basis.

Turbines only work when the wind blows, and solar panels only work when the sun shines.

Within the energy grid there must be a balance between the load and generation, but because of the varying levels of electricity produced by intermittent renewable sources this balance is hard to maintain, and poses one of the biggest challenges to the power sector.

Renewable energy (wind and solar) provides 3.5 perfect of America’s electricity. Denmark currently gets 30 perfect of its energy from wind and hopes to get 50 perfect by 2020. Europe’s largest economy, Germany, produces 12 perfect of its electricity from wind and solar and would like 35 perfect of its electricity generation to come from renewables by 2020.

The Europeans are learning the practical challenges of depending on renewable energy to supply electricity.

The first challenge is cost:

• Germany has invested $250 billion in renewable energy development, and its households pay the highest power costs in Europe

• Germans and Danes on average, pay 300 perfect more for residential electricity than Americans do

Another major challenge is far more serious:

• Potential loss of reliable electrical supply

• It’s one thing to ask consumers to pay more for a cleaner supply; it’s another to force them to endure blackouts

Electricity must be generated and dispatched to meet a constantly changing demand for power. Supply must match demand to make sure the correct amount of electricity is moving across the wires to avoid brownouts, power failures and other problems.

Historically, coal and nuclear plants are used to meet base-load demand while gas and hydro-electric have been used to meet shifting demand. The intermittent and variable supply of renewable energy, which is determined by nature, is often not available when needed.

There are increasing reports of frequency fluctuations, volt support issues and inadvertent power flows being experienced by European electricity suppliers.

So far, we have not experienced these problems in the United States. Unlike Europe, we have excess generating capacity. The small amount of electricity being supplied by renewable sources does not create a significant problem in most markets.

However, as nuclear plants are decommissioned and regulations shut down coal-fired plants, states that are increasing renewable energy will start to look more like Europe.

The attraction to renewable energy is universal. It is not surprising that, worldwide, citizens are passionate about the possibility of clean and free energy forever. However, careful reform of our policies, balanced by lessons learned from Europe, might help renewables become a link in the energy chain.


Joseph P. Smith is the owner of Pyro-Chem Corporation in South Point and has worked in the energy industry for more than three decades. He can be reached by email at

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  • mickakers

    The following quote is from an informative article from Wikipedia concerning the EPA; “The United States Environmental Protection Agency (EPA or sometimes USEPA) is an agency of the U.S. federal government which was created for the purpose of protecting human health and the environment by writing and enforcing regulations based on laws passed by Congress. The EPA was proposed by President Richard Nixon and began operation on December 2, 1970, after Nixon signed an executive order. The order establishing the EPA was ratified by committee hearings in the House and Senate. The agency is led by its Administrator, who is appointed by the president and approved by Congress.” We the American people are very fortunate to have the EPA looking after our health and welfare. If it were not for regulations put into force by the EPA in regard to Auto emissions, we would not have the advancement we have experienced in less polluting automobiles. If it were not for the EPA and its regulations, we would still have the rampant disregard for the environment and its peoples by the coal and oil industries. Without a doubt, we owe a debt of thanks to the United States Environmental Protection Agency.

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  • mikehaney

    It appears that the “powers that be” in Washington, DC have all intentions of taking the American people down a dead-end road by shoving unreliable, high-cost, unproven renewable energy down our throats.——————————————————-
    This reminds me of the pollution controls of the new 1970′s era automobile, where pollution controls were adapted to the current car engine. It was junk, and cost the consumer gas mileage and repair bills. The car engine we have today is many times more efficient and dependable.
    If Ky Power has to adapt to new EPA guidelines by 2015 it will cost them one billion dollars or shut down. The consumer will pay due to Washington and EPA’s incompetency and unreasonable dead lines. The little dictator in Washington is smiling all the way to the golf course.

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  • 79Tiger

    When the warming alarmists can explain the end of the last ice age and blame that on man, I may begin to take them seriously. But even then, I want to see them drastically change their lifestyles first. Namely, living like the Amish.

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  • mickakers

    Joseph P. Smith; As a PS: I do enjoy your articles, they get me to thinkin. I worked forty two years in the railroad industry. C&O, C&O/B&O, Chessie System and last but not least, CSXT. Thirty two years at Russell, Ky. in the Transportation Department. Coal was the primary commodity. We had a fifty two track west bound coal classification yard, a thirty two track west bound Mfst. classification yard and a twenty eight track classification east bound yard for Mfst. & empty hoppers destined to the coal fields. As you can see, coal was the king of the roost although mfst. had priority when it came to movement. The Railroad, as the Coal and Oil Industry, put profit ahead of care and concern for the citizens of our county, by neglecting Passenger Service. We are the only major country in the world that dose not have a first rate Passenger Rail Service. Due to the excessive greed of the Coal, Oil and Railroad Industries the American Public has suffered. My last ten years of service with the railroad was in the Finance Department, Jacksonville, Florida. I was President of Roosevelt Lodge 359 Brotherhood Of Railway, Airline and Steamship Clerks (350 plus members) Russell, Ky. for twenty years. This Labor Union is now known as the Transportation Communications Union/IAM AFL/CIO,CLC which I have been a proud member for fifty two years.

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    • mikehaney

      So Mick; your saying the railroad was in a filthy and money grubbing business dealing with the terrible coal hoppers and oil filled tank cars. Maybe you should refuse your next pension check, it being so tainted and all. I for one worked 30 years for Ashland oil and was very appreciative of a great job and enjoyed every minute of working with my fellow employees.
      Yes it was dangerous working in a refinery, and there were past problems with air quality and poisonous chemicals but when found were corrected. The safety department did a great job of enforcing the rules and as men weren’t perfect and always open to the latest precautions. The coal,oil and railroad industries helped our country remain strong and without we would have been at the mercy of the tyrants responsible for our two world wars. People like you and the democrat(liberals) are weakening our great country and are putting you,me, and our children and grandchildren at dire risk. I worked traffic dept starting out scheduling van deliveries to bulk plants,then rail car traffic, scale house at refinery, rail car traffic at refinery lining tank cars up(walking loading racks,yard,and diesel cars at Kenova) for the switch engine from yard, chemical usage report for two refineries which meant walking both for inventories(tanks and drums,etc.) Storeroom handling parts, chemical drums,pressurized cylinders,bags,unloading trucks at dock etc. Ended up running both storerooms, one union, one not.
      Ran into John Hall past CEO of Ashland Oil couple times. Once after a fire he picked up some boots and coveralls at the storeroom so he could asses damage from a unit fire. He in the past had worked his way up doing refinery and terminal jobs. He had my respect for sure.
      Was his paycheck bigger than mine? Absolutely. Did I care? Absolutely not.
      Industry in this great country was just a piece of our history but it added to our success. No other country can compare.
      As far as passenger rail service, US citizens are in love with the automobile and interstates. It gives them freedom of movement that no other country in the world has. To blame otherwise on industry is a completely false statement. Your watching way too much liberal news and its warping your thinking.

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  • mikehaney

    Joseph P. Smith-Good article, and hopefully with enough sane people we can purge Washington of all the hippie radicals.

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  • mickakers

    Joseph P. Smith; It is obvious you have been associated with the energy industry for over thirty years as your ideas and way of thinking are antiquated. It would behoove you to look toward the future rather than wallow in the past. There is no doubt, we need cleaner sources of energy, more environment and people friendly. Coal and oil belong to the 19th and 20th centuries. Solar and Wind are to examples for the present and future. At the present time they are in the infantile stage of development as is the study for storing electricity economically. Come on Joseph, jump on the band wagon and look toward the future for the improvement of the environment and the advancement of the quality of life of the people. I find it interesting and an example of your backwardness in your condescending view of the EPA. All Americans owe the EPA a debt of gratitude for the improvement in the quality of the environment and the life of it’s peoples. The EPA puts reins on the runaway disregard of said environment and people that the Coal and Oil industry have demonstrated in there all out pursuit of profit.

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