Update: (Posted 4:40 pm December 18) It’s too late. The House and Senate passed the spending bills and went home for the holidays. Sorry to have been too late on this one; the several thousand page bill was just released a couple of days ago. It took a little time to read and understand the implications.
It may not be too late, but action must happen quickly.
The solar and wind energy lobbyists have successfully convinced Congress to insert yet another extension of their generous tax credits into the omnibus bill that is scheduled for a vote today.
The extensions are 7 and 5 years long, respectively and will result in massive new additions of weather dependent electricity generating capacity. With the help of the subsidies along with renewable portfolio standards that require independent system operators to purchase their output whenever it happens to be available there will be a larger number of hours in the year when electricity market prices are below the fixed costs of owning and operating a nuclear power plant.
There will be an increasing probability of negative price periods when reliable baseload power plants that have difficulty with short term shutdowns will have to pay the grid to take their output.
These subsidies are sold as ways to reduce CO2 and other air pollution, but when they are so generous that they encourage excess capacity that pushes already emission free nuclear plants off of the grid long before their useful life is over, wind and solar can increase emissions because they depend on natural gas to supply power most of the time.
Not only will existing plants be pushed off of the grid, but low wholesale electricity prices discourage investments in new nuclear projects.
Please call your local congressman today. Tell him why you think that extending the PTC/ITC is a bad decision with long term negative impacts. It is an economic issue, an environmental issue and a national security issue.
The Council on Foreign Relations’s Michael Levi disagrees with me and thinks that the PTC/ITC extensions will reduce emissions. You decide whose analysis is closer to reality.