Wyoming bill prohibits power companies from using renewables


Will dealing with the costs of environmental damage be factored into this?


Welcome to Boing Boing, comrade.


Basically this is happening because after years of saying “We can’t protect the environment because it is too expensive”, wind is now about as cheap as coal, leaving coal interests standing with their dicks in their hands wondering what to do next. The real killer is that natural gas is also now also almost as cheap as coal, is much cheaper and faster to deploy new capacity, and is a much better fit to intermittent generation. That means that if they allow any significant increase in wind power, that will drive down the wholesale prices of electricity when there is wind, decreasing the average profitability of coal, while natural gas generators can just ramp up and down as needed. Basically coal is fucked and they know it.


That is a separate issue than the argument that this move is for consumer protection.

If you’re asking if we should subsidize wind because it is cleaner - maybe? If the other methods are being subsidized, then sure, why not. It is just hard for me to support wind because of the alternative energy ideas out there, I think it is one of the least likely to pan out long term. Though I think it is worthwhile pursuing as a gap stop measure, as well as the potential for new developments that makes it more viable long term.

At the same time, if wind is nearly as cheap as coal with similar levels of subsidies, then there is little reason to not use it.

It is worthy to mention that there is research into making much cleaner running coal plants as well. China is actually helping lead the way on this with some an experimental plant that last I read was producing promisingly cleaner energy.


Everyone should buy as much solar as they want, and then buy a grid-tie limiter inverter, it doesn’t feedback to grid, so no need for netmetering contracts or fees, but you do need a battery system to take full advantage of solar made…
Super easy to use literally plug and play, no need for separate wiring… If you want complete separate from the grid (off-grid), then there are stand alone inverters…


I think the issue that this is for consumer protection is a red herring. A very old, smelly one at that.

I’m asking if we’re going to continue to subsidize coal by pretending the costs stop at the meter.

Job creator replacing all those wind farms in 25 years. Doesn’t the free market love planned obsolescence?

Good, me too! We’ve already set ourselves on a collision course, let’s try out the brakes before we get there.

I guess I’d rather get hit in the head with a ball pein over a sledgehammer, but I really don’t see either option as ideal. :wink:


Why is that? The technology is pretty well developed and understood, the available capacity is high, and the capacity factors are getting pretty good. While lack of on-demand production is a problem with most renewables, it looks like geographic diversity and building taller turbines helps out quite a bit – certainly compared to solar where the whole country is dark at night.

I am not saying wind is ever going to be 100%, but wind + solar looks like it can supply a pretty big fraction of our total power demand with basically today’s technology (studies I have seen recently range from 30% to 60% depending on the level of grid improvements and overprovisioning). Everything else looks to have major flaws preventing them from wide scale use – either they are restricted geographically or are way to expensive with no

Personally, I would be happy to have more nuclear production, and if you asked me 10 years ago (or even 5), I would have said we needed nuclear power, and in particular we should replace our 60s and 70s nuclear plants with more modern designs that are safer and more efficient. I still think that is a good idea, but with the plummeting cost of wind and solar, it might just not make economic sense. Certainly with the political issues nuclear faces, wind and solar seem like a far better bet to get fast reduction in CO2 production.

I haven’t been too impressed with any of the “cleaner” coal projects – the ones that just improve thermal efficiency and reduce sulfur emissions seem fine, but they just aren’t that clean compared to natural gas, either in terms of smog or CO2. China doesn’t have a ton of natural gas, so it makes sense they would try to do this, but there doesn’t seem to be much point in the US right now. Gasification sounds great, and has been “promising” for years now, but seems to be a long way from being practical and affordable. Of course that could change, and I am in favor of research on anything that seems promising, but it isn’t really ready to be deployed today.


Rooftop solar is great, although having a grid tie system and not being allowed or economical to feed excess back into the grid is stupid (powering your neighbor’s AC and avoiding fossil fuel production now is usually more efficient than storing it in a battery). But overall rooftop solar is a lot more expensive than utility solar. It is still nice if you want to have some backup/redundancy, and it really helps in places where rapid growth in usage has led to distribution bottlenecks, but it isn’t really a replacement for grid scale renewable energy.


The bill is not expected to pass. Good. At least there’s that.

But… with our Big Oil Executive Secretary of State, and Republican control of Washington a reality now - these type of proposals will likely be more and more commonplace, I imagine. Elections have consequences.


I agree, which I thought my original statement called out.

I don’t think we should subsidize coal. Other than maybe for improvements to plants to make them cleaner.

In a nut shell - storage of energy and size of farms, which has environmental impacts to wildlife. The costs are getting much better making it more viable, but not that long ago the costs didn’t make a lot of sense. Like I said, some areas such as Wyoming and other sparsely populated areas with a lot of wind I think is a better fit than in other areas. So I am not really against wind as much as I think other things will surpass it. Though perhaps a combination like you said will become the norm.

I really think solar will be the ultimate savior as solar cells get more and more efficient and battery technology gets better at storing it.

I think nuclear has a lot of potential too, but it seems like we are moving away from the “one giant power source” model. From what I have gathered, the costs for new plants are what is keeping it held back (that and public perception).

I also would love to see a viable Thorium reactor. Thus far I haven’t seen anyone able to counter why these would be a bad idea other than 1) cost and 2) more R&D needed to upscale experiments from the 60s. I think if we had started this in say the late 90s we would have phased out coal or at least put a large dent in it. But we didn’t and now I took am questioning if it would be worth the time/investment to go that way, or keep working on solar and other methods which are nearing the point where they will be the obviously better choice.

That’s a good point that natural gas is much cleaner and more available in the US. I just found it interesting that China is sort of leading the way on this, but given their rapid expansion has lead to pollution levels even worse in the 60s and 70s when the US finally started paying attention to it. Even if their clean coal isn’t perfect, making it better is a step in the right direction. I can’t find the article but I thought their pilot program had shown significant reduction of CO2 and smog (though it probably is still way less than natural gas.) So even if we still have one coal plant running here, making it as clean as we can is a good goal.


Also, coal will become a mandatory part of all school lunches.


What is wrong with conserving resources, using them at a measured rate, so that they last well into the next century or beyond? For that matter, is burning fossil fuels the best, highest value use of them? Or would it be better to use them as feedstock in the production of plastics and pharmaceuticals?


No it isn’t. The legal figleaf they’re trying to foist on Wyoming is that the price of wind power should be artificially inflated because otherwise the good people of that fine state wouldn’t receive the blessings of cheap coal power.

But part of the reason coal is as “cheap” is because they’ve offloaded the externalities of environmental degradation and compromised health. If coal had to pay for the damage it causes, windpower would already be a lot cheaper as a source. It’s only by subsidising coal in this way that it remains competitive at all (well, that and imposing a green tax on the clean source rather than the dirty source /boggle )


There are 580,000 residents in Wyoming.
The power we generate is not for us, it is for California and New York.
You greedily snap up every kilowatt and demand more.
If solar and wind are so great why isn’t California energy independent?
As for subsidy, how do you suppose all those solar panels are so cheap.
AND what do you think China uses as energy to manufacture those solar panels?
The real cost of renewable energy must take the manufacture and service life of these systems into account.
Currently it is a green fantasy.
The energy you produce with your roof top solar takes years to equal the amount of energy used to manufacture the system.
There is no free lunch.
As for us, Wyoming is wise to tax these projects.
Solar and wind aren’t free and subsidies and Chinese slave labor are an impact on our energy revenue.
We have every right to tax energy production regardless of form in our state.


You are correct: you have the right to tax whatever the hell you want. And we have the right to point and laugh at your servile eagerness to line someone else’s pockets regardless of the cost to you and your neighbours.

Also, welcome Matt, thanks for joining a few minutes ago to share your insight with us. Hang around and enjoy some other articles.


Consumers don’t know what’s in their best interests.


The rest of us pay, through our medical insurance premiums, the cost of your coal plants. I’m thankful the prevailing wind carries your pollutants to the East where the Dakota folks can choke on them.


If ~20-40 million dollars doesn’t sound prohibitive to you, than I’ll happily take those funds.


Yet you use electricity produced in a coal, oil, gas, or nuclear power plant.
You think of electric power as a right.
Meanwhile solar and wind will only ever be 8-10% of total production all the while a fossil fueled power plant is spinning online in the background so when the sun sets or wind stops, you can still charge your prious.