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Department Of Energy To Greenies: Sod Off!

Steven Hayward, Power Line

The grasping rent-seekers of subsidies and mandates for wind and solar power have been sniping at the U.S. Department of Energy’s Energy Information Administration (EIA) for supposedly overestimating the costs of wind and solar power compared to coal- and gas-fired power, and underestimating the growth of wind and solar.

EIA does a terrific job of data gathering and analysis, even if some of their work requires great care, such as the widely used and abused “Levelized Cost of Electricity” calculations.

So it is rather extraordinary to see the EIA report released a few days ago that essentially says to the grasping greenies—you’ll all a bunch of ninnies. Being a government bureaucracy, they didn’t put it as directly as that, but if you read between the lines of officialese, that’s what they’re saying.

The report is entitled Wind and Solar Data and Projections from the U.S. Energy Information Administration: Past Performance and Ongoing Enhancements, and it makes for fun reading. (It is, in essence, the DoE giving its own Green Weenie Award.) One of the things the EIA rebuttal makes clear is how heavily—and permanently—dependent on government subsidies wind and solar are.

Enjoy some samples of EIA’s dry but devastating prose:

Several articles, papers, and comments over the past year offered critical views regarding renewable electricity data and projections prepared by the U.S. Energy Information Administration (EIA). Although particular details vary from source to source, several critiques have involved claims along the following lines:

  • EIA data do not accurately track wind and solar generation or capacity, particularly distributed solar photovoltaics (PV). 

  • EIA projections “consistently” and “significantly” underestimate additions of wind and solar capacity.
  • EIA estimates for the cost of renewable capacity such as wind and solar are out-of-date and not representative of current market costs.

To which the EIA responds: and so’s your old man. For example:

A number of critics have suggested that EIA “consistently” under-projects wind and solar capacity and generation, or even is “always underestimating –and never overestimating –future deployment of renewables.” EIA’s projections for wind and solar markets have been largely dependent on how well policies in EIA projections match with policies as actually implemented, and the projections have both under- and over-estimated market growth for renewables.

One problem with wind and solar power as that the tax breaks and subsidies are as politically intermittent and uncertain as the energy sources themselves (irony alert), and the EIA goes on to point out that when they have taken account of the renewal of the intermittent subsidies, their projections have turned out to be highly accurate

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