Why Less Coal

I have been assuming that gains in electricity generation by natural gas were the reason for loss in generation by coal. This is not quite true. In 2016 coal generation was down by about 750 million kilowatt-hours (kWh) from its 2006-2008 average, a 38 percent drop. About two-thirds of the drop was due to natural gas and about one-third to renewables.

Source EIA Electric Data Browser, accessed 21 June 2017

Renewable Energy Does Not Harm Stock Performance

There are still office holders who cling to the notion of expensive renewable energy, buttressed by questionable web sites.

There is a line of argument that I have not seen used: companies, such as Google and Amazon, have made major commitments to renewable energy. These are publically-traded firms. If renewable energy was so expensive, Wall Street would be shouting loudly and hammering their stock down. This has not happened.

Converting MW to Homes

A recent article stated that one MW of wind power provides enough electricity to power 1000 homes (1, 2). This claim was later qualified by stating that “sources such as wind and solar are often operating at less than full capacity” (3).

Actually the largest possible value is 800 houses per Megawatt. Last year wind in Ohio produced enough electricity for about 250 homes and solar about 125 homes (See Appendix).

References:

(1) Wind energy poised for growth in Ohio, advocates say, The Columbus Dispatch, October 30, 2016

(2) Tom Stacy offered a correction in the Comments section of Ref. (1). Unfortunately he used faulty logic.

(2) AEP wins profit guarantee sought in coal-fired power case, The Columbus Dispatch, November 3, 2016

Appendix: Calculations

One Megawatt generating electricity for one year (8760 hours) would produce 8760 MWh. Since the average home uses about 11 MWh (= 11,000 kWh) of electricity each year, this is enough electricity for 8760/11 = 796 homes.

Since Ohio generated 1.2 million MWh of electricity from wind in 2015, wind provides enough energy for about 110,000 homes. Ohio has 432 MW of wind power – 110,000/432 is about 250. So one MW of power provides electricity equal to that used by about 250 homes.

Comparable numbers for solar are 162,000 MWh total electricity and 119 MW of power. This translates to 14,700 homes and 14,700/119 = 124 homes per MW.

(Data from Energy Information Administration for 2015, except solar capacity from Columbus Dispatch, Nov. 4, 2016)

LTE to dispatch (Not published)

Electric rates are spiraling out of control. It is not clear why they have been rising at twice the rate of inflation for the past several years. The higher cost does not mean that we are paying for a new and improved product. It is the same electricity that we always have used – only the price is higher.

Since electricity is also a necessity, it is proper that it is subject to state oversight. But, somehow, Ohio has let us down and allowed the inflated prices. For example, our Legislature is addressing the skyrocketing rates by worrying about the less-than-one-percent of our electric bill that is due to renewable energy.

 

Sources:

ELECTRIC RATES: Electricity Data Browser, http://www.eia.gov/electricity/data/browser/ (note: as of July, Rates have decreased one percent in 2016 compared to 2015)

INFLATION: CPI Detailed Report Data for December 2015, Table 24, http://www.bls.gov/cpi/cpid1512.pdf

RENEWABLE ENERGY COST: IEU-Ohio Mandate Cost Calculator, http://www.ieu-ohio.org/mandate-cost-calculator.aspx

Proposed Ohio Wind Farms

Revised 31 Jan 2017

If all goes according to plan, Ohio will build eight more wind farms in the next five years. According to Electric Power Monthly for Jan. 2017 we now have 433 MW. The planned farms will almost quintuple that number giving wind about one-eighth of Ohio’s electricity.

FUTURE OHIO WIND FARMS

Name County MW On-Line Ref.
Amazon Paulding 100 2017 (a)
Scioto Ridge Hardin 189 2017 (b)
Buckeye I & II Champaign 200 2017 (?) (c)
Long Prairie Van Wert 450 2018 (d)
Icebreaker Cuyahoga (offshore) 20 – 30 2019 (e)
AEP Unknown 500 2021 (?) (f,g)
 Exelon Seneca  200  ?  (h)
DPL Unknown Less than 300 2022 (i)
Total   About 1900  

References:

(a) Amazon to build wind farms in NW Ohio, Columbus Dispatch, 20 Nov. 2015

(b) Amazon to build second wind farm in Ohio, The Columbus Dispatch, November 1, 2016

(c) everpower, Buckeye Wind Project, Champaign County, OH http://everpower.com/buckeye-wind-project-oh/

(d) Commissioners meet with wind farm representatives, Times Bulletin, 3 Feb 2016

(e) LEEDCo Vision and Timing http://www.leedco.org/icebreaker/vision-timeline, accessed 2 April 2016

(f) AEP renewable-power proposal ambitious, costly, Columbus Dispatch, 16 Dec. 2015

http://www.dispatch.com/content/stories/business/2015/12/16/fresh-power-up.html

(g) AEP wants to hear from wind developers interested in big Ohio projects, Columbus Business Journal, May 13, 2016

http://www.bizjournals.com/columbus/news/2016/05/13/aep-wants-to-hear-from-wind-developers-interested.html?ana=RSS%26s=article_search

(h) Exelon to build its first commercial wind farm in Ohio, Platts, 21 June 2016

http://www.platts.com/latest-news/electric-power/louisville-kentucky/exelon-to-build-its-first-commercial-wind-farm-21772944

(i) DP&L AGREES TO INVEST IN CLEAN ENERGY; SIGNALLING AGREEMENT TO RETIRE STUART AND KILLEN COAL PLANTS, Sierra Club Press Release, 30 January 2017

Alternative Energy Job Gains in Ohio

Background

Estimates of the effect of alternative energy on jobs vary wildly (e.g. 1, 2) and are controversial. In general, advocates only consider jobs created and opponents only consider jobs lost. Advocates need to realize that alternative energy displaces existing jobs at power plants and coal mines. Opponents need to recognize that alternative energy creates jobs; someone has to insulate the buildings and install the solar panels.

Renewable Energy

Since Ohio has less than two percent renewable energy (3), job changes should be small. This is confirmed by Table 1, which shows that even the largest estimates are well below one percent of the 5.2 million work force (4). There is a marked difference between the two parts of the table – job gains are from surveys (‘experiment’) while job losses are from computer analysis of the state’s economy (‘theory’).  There are problems with both approaches. The definition of green jobs is controversial (7) making the gains uncertain. The problems with losses are worse. The first two entries under ‘Computer Analysis’ use costs comparisons that are ‘misleading’ according to the leading authority on the subject (8). Analysis leading to the largest loss under ‘Computer Analysis’ uses a statistical model which answers the question, “What is my worst-case scenario?”(9). The last entry in Table 1 would only be valid if an extremely unfavorable cost difference between wind and fossil fuels persisted for a long time.

Table 1. Renewable Energy Job Changes

Jobs

Years

Analyzed

 

Reference
Survey
19,000 (a) 2012 (5)
14,400 (b) 2014 (1)
Computer Analysis
(9,753) 2008-25 (6)
(3,590) 2018 (c) (2)
(29,366) 2015

(2)

(a) out of 31,000 alternative energy jobs

(b) Out of 71,000 alternative energy jobs

(c) Uses a 2013 prediction of 2018 costs

 

We can estimate direct job losses due to coal plant closings at about 100 per plant (10), making a small dent in the job figures in Table 1. Ohio would need to quadruple its wind output to put one coal plant out of production.

 

Energy Efficiency

Efficiency job estimate are limited to the same surveys as above. Unlike renewable energy, I am unaware of any estimates of job losses due to energy, except for individual plants (10).  Between 2008 and 2013 Ohio lost about 3000 MW of coal plants and gained about 1500 MW of natural gas plants (11). At about 500 MW per coal plant, the job losses amount to about 300 workers.

 

 

Table 2 Efficiency Job Changes

Jobs Years

Analyzed

 

Reference
Survey
12,000 (a) 2012 (5)
57,000 (b) 2014 (1)

(a) Out of 31,000 alternative energy jobs

(b) Out of 71,000 alternative energy jobs

 

Combined

According to an OSU computer analysis, the combination of renewable energy and efficiency produce 3,200 jobs between 2008 and 2012 (13).

 

Discussion

The majority of the data shows job gains, which is not surprising. Since wind and solar are more labor intensive than fossil fuels, many more jobs are created by renewable energy than are displaced. Subtracting jobs displaced from the surveys (1, 5) makes no material change.

Conversely, subtracting survey results from the computer analyses (2, 6) changes the picture significantly.  Even if the 29,000 job loss in Ref. (2) were correct, the total job loss is halved. Further, subtracting the gain in efficiency jobs from it, turns a loss into a large gain. The other computer analyses turn into gains, even if efficiency is ignored.

I conclude that alternative energy in Ohio has resulted in job gains in the tens of thousands. In a separate report I pointed out that green energy has created more jobs in Ohio than shale mining (14).

References

(1) Environmental Entrepreneurs; Clean Jobs Ohio, May 2015;

http://www.cleanjobsohio.org/

(2) Randy T Simmons, et al., Renewable Portfolio Standards: Ohio, Utah State University, April 2015 http://emsc.legislature.ohio.gov/testimony

(3) PUCO, How does Ohio generate electricity? http://www.puco.ohio.gov/puco/?LinkServID=07FEA955-9818-B02E-9006A6E6834F7BA6#sthash.9CsGs2qI.dpbs

(4) Bureau of Labor Statistics, May 2014 State Occupational Employment and Wage Estimates

Ohio, http://www.bls.gov/oes/current/oes_oh.htm

(5) State of Ohio, Ohio Alternative Energy Job Survey Analysis, February 2013

http://www.lwvohio.org/assets/attachments/file/ODSA%20job%20survey%20(1).pdf

(6) American Tradition Institute, The Cost and Economic Impact of Ohio’s Alternative Energy Portfolio Standard, April 2011 http://www.atinstitute.org/wp-content/uploads/2011/04/ATI_OH_RPS_study.pdf

(7) Why don’t some state officials want you to read this report on ‘green’ energy jobs?, Columbus Dispatch, November 17, 2014 http://www.dispatch.com/content/stories/business/2014/11/16/report-on-green-energy-jobs-was-put-on-ice-during-debate.html

(8) The exact quote is “Since projected utilization rates, the existing resource mix, and capacity values can all vary dramatically across regions where new generation capacity may be needed, the direct comparison of LCOE across technologies is often problematic and can be misleading as a method to assess the economic competitiveness of various generation alternatives.”  Energy Information Administration, Levelized Cost and Levelized Avoided Cost of New Generation Resources in the Annual Energy Outlook 2015 http://www.eia.gov/forecasts/aeo/electricity_generation.cfm

(9) David Harper, An Introduction To Value at Risk (VAR), Investopedia, December 28, 2015

http://www.investopedia.com/articles/04/092904.asp?no_header_alt=true

(10) First Energy closing 6 coal-fired power plants, Ohio.com, January 26, 2012 http://www.ohio.com/news/break-news/firstenergy-closing-6-coal-fired-power-plants-1.257090

(11) EIA, Existing Electric Power Plant Generating Capacity By Energy Source by Producer by State Back to 1990, http://www.eia.gov/state/search/#?1=102&2=216

(13) Anon., Economic Analysis of Ohio’s Renewable and Energy Efficiency Standards, November 18, 2013 http://www.ohiomfg.com/wp-content/uploads/2013-11-22_lb_energy_deeps_nov_13_final.pdf

(14) A. R. Rosenfield, Green Energy Has Created More Jobs In Ohio Than Shale, January 6, 2016 https://alanpeg.wordpress.com/2016/01/06/green-energy-has-created-more-jobs-in-ohio-than-shale-2/