On PointVincent Carroll, editor of the editorial pages, writes his On Point column most weekdays. He is also an author and freelance writer. Reach Vincent Carroll at carrollv@RockyMountainNews.com.
Carroll: Kidding herself
No one will accuse the governor’s full-time adviser on climate change of Al Gore- type hypocrisy for her personal energy consumption. Heidi VanGenderen owns a hybrid vehicle, she told a Rocky reporter, dries clothes on a line out back, and boasts that her family’s house is “100 percent renewable powered” through Xcel’s Windsource program.
All well and good, no doubt, with one clarification: Unless VanGenderen has a windmill atop her house, it is no more powered by renewables than mine is — or any other Xcel ratepayer’s.
In fact, most of the electrons coming into her home from the utility’s grid are generated by (cover your eyes, faint hearts) coal. The No. 2 source: natural gas.
What VanGenderen presumably meant is that she chooses to pay Xcel’s separate Windsource rate for an amount of kilowatt hours equal to her family’s energy usage. In that sense she and the nearly 50,000 customers who have signed up for Windsource in the three states where Xcel offers the program have probably helped the utility accelerate its acquisition of wind power.
If those customers wish to feel greener-than-thou about their contribution, more power to them. But the wind energy they subsidize supplements other sources; it doesn’t replace them.
Even if Xcel could route wind power separately to the houses of everyone in its Windsource program, those homes would still depend on baseload coal and natural gas for a good part of the time when the wind didn’t blow. Xcel can’t provide 100 percent renewables and still satisfy customer power demands — and neither can anyone else. That’s why, for example, the company is researching the possibility of using wind power to produce hydrogen, whose energy could be tapped when the wind fails.
Someday a governor’s climate adviser might well live in a house “100 percent renewable powered.” But for the forseeable future, that’s wishful thinking, and misleading to boot.
From his prison cell in Sterling, the financial rogue Will Hoover writes to thank me for “hitting a nerve” with a recent column. It seems that my quip “Life isn’t fair, of course, but why does it have to be ridiculous?” reminded Hoover “of where I’m at.”
Where he’s at, in case you’ve forgotten, is serving a 100-year sentence for bilking 25 investor clients of more than $13 million.
“Close to home,” Hoover observed, “we see [Qwest’s Joe] Nacchio likely suffering a Club Fed sentence in the eight-to- 10-year range. Like you, I don’t expect fairness in all of life’s pursuits, but why does it have to be ridiculous?”
Hey, let’s not get carried away here. Nacchio’s crimes were far less nasty than those of Hoover, who brazenly looted investors’ assets in a pyramid scheme that eventually imploded.
Nacchio’s insider trading wasn’t the cause of the free fall in stock price from which Qwest investors have yet to recover. He withheld information from investors precisely because he knew the company’s health was far more fragile than they did.
By contrast, Hoover was a pedal-to-the-metal cheat who might as well have slipped into clients’ homes and ransacked their safes.
That said, I stand by my 2005 assessment of Hoover’s 100-year sentence: It is grossly out of line with those imposed on other white-collar swindlers and indeed may be altogether unique. While Nacchio isn’t a relevant comparison, neither is a serial killer.
Vincent Carroll is editor of the editorial pages. Reach him at carrollv@RockyMountain
Great comments on the renewable fraud. We should also shed the light of day (pun intended) on the Governor's solar energy project in the San Luis valley. $60 Million for 8 MW of power for 1500 homes. That's $40,000 per home. On it's face this is a ridiculous rip off, more so since the project will produce power about only 25% of the time. There will also be huge capital costs for the backup gas power when the solar plant is not working. Excel loves it cause the new laws (thanks Democrats) allow them to recoup their investment immediatly and pass the entire cost on to consumers. This is a huge fraud on the electric consumer only the liberal Democrat politicians could love!Posted by Jim - Paonia on May 8, 2007 08:12 AM
Vincent Carroll will be online chatting about this and other columns and issues at 11 a.m. on RockyMountainNews.com E-mail questions/comments in advance and join the chat here at 11.Posted by Mark Wolf on May 8, 2007 08:38 AM
I can't believe there are people who say "we should conserve water" then actually still DRINK WATER. What hypocrites.Posted by Carroll is a Douche on May 8, 2007 11:45 AM
I guess Ritter's Secretary of Symbolism is VanGenderen.
The more things change, the more they stay the same. Democrats still favor style over substance.
hey douche! I can't believe there are people who proclaim to live a carbon neutral life style via "offsets" but still emit massive amounts of carbon into the atmosphere.Posted by frankie on May 8, 2007 04:49 PM
As usual Vincent tells it like it is.
I'd love to see him do a column on energy usage at the Governor's mansionPosted by Deb on May 8, 2007 09:05 PM
Vince hits it out of the park again. A full-time taxpayer-funded advisor on climate change? Are you kidding me? Welcome to "government efficiency" as the Governor see it. So much for the touted GEM initiative.Posted by BB on May 9, 2007 12:32 PM
Van Genderen's "sacrifice" reminds me of the Q & A the other day with activist/alarmist Laurie David. One of her sacrifices was to use a garment bag when picking up her drycleaning rather than use plastic bags each time. Putting aside the equation of how many plastic bags equals just one trip on David's private jet in terms of carbon dioxide output, why doesn't she simply eschew drycleaning for clothes washed with water? Or better yet, on a washboard?Posted by Globalwarminghype on May 9, 2007 12:36 PM
The author makes a pointless argument about a specific type of power not being delivered to a particular customer - it is a physical impossibility. What is important is that the green power demand of Xcel Energy's 40,000 windsource customers has driven the development of a considerable amount of wind power, and that the utility's overall mix of resources gets cleaner with every participating customer. Those Windsource sales are above and beyond their required renewable obligation. And their green power customers have also benefited: they are exempt from volatile natural gas price increases!Posted by Yaki on May 9, 2007 11:09 PM