May 29, 2008

Why can't UPC Wind close a deal with Vermont utilities?

During the process leading up the Public Service Board (PSB) approval on August 8 last year of UPC's proposed 40-MW wind energy facility in Sheffield, Vt., Washington Electric Co-op (WEC) was a vocal supporter that hoped to benefit from the power. The Army Corps of Engineers halted activity on the project, however, until they could properly assess its effect on wetlands, and Ridge Protectors appealed the approval to the Vt. Supreme Court.

As reported in last week's Barton Chronicle, the PSB set several conditions for their approval, one of which was that UPC "seek" stable price contracts with Vermont utilities for all of the electricity production. It turns out that they have so far failed in their quest for such contracts, even with WEC.

UPC is arguing that they have indeed "sought" to secure the contracts (although I don't think any paperwork to prove even that contention has been presented), and that is all that the condition required.

But the failure reveals the Enron-type shell game essential to big wind's "success".

The rejected East Haven project gained the local utility's (Lyndonville Electric Dept. (LED)) support by essentially letting them skim some of the profits. The wind plant would sell its production to the New England grid, who would send the check to LED, who would take out 5% and send the money on to the wind company. The wind company (Mathew Rubin and Dave Rapaport) thus claimed that they were selling the electricity to LED at 5% below market rates.

A similar arrangement was apparently planned between UPC and WEC, but it fails the requirement for a stable price contract for two reasons. First, the market rate is not stable, and second, it would not be a contract for actually providing WEC with electricity. And there, apparently, is the rub. A direct contract for power is problematic, because power from the wind is variable, intermittent, and significantly unpredictable. What would WEC be contracting for?

Feeding the Sheffield plant's production into WEC's grid would seriously destabilize it, so it would have to go into the much larger New England (where it might represent a very small increase in voltage and could simply be ignored). So WEC would have to procure a stable price contract with the New England grid for an unpredictable amount of power (representing that fed into it by the Sheffield plant), or it would have to arrange a price with UPC above which UPC would pay the balance to WEC's charges from the grid for the amount of power fed in by the Sheffield plant.

Taking a cut to look the other way is so much easier!

tags: wind power, wind energy, wind farms, Vermont

May 13, 2008

Hillary Clinton and masculine anxiety

Good essay by Stephen Ducat at Huffington Post (click on title of this post):

In applying the GOP approach to feminizing male opponents, and directing class resentment away from the real elites, Hillary Clinton has gone beyond her more familiar adoption of the ruthless, sociopathic say-anything, dirty tricks politics of her erstwhile Rovian right wing enemies. She is reinforcing the conservative attempt to equate manhood with belligerence and predation. In addition, she is trotting out the well worn but still effective propaganda technique employed by this country's actual ruling oligarchy of wealth -- reducing class to personal style, taste, or the specific products people consume (brie versus Velveeta). Those who actually own or wield control over our shared resources are rendered invisible in this rhetorical sleight of hand.

Barack Obama stands in stark contrast to the attitude of the Clinton campaign. His guiding political ethos has always been one of bridging but not overlooking divisions, while privileging dialogue, debate, and negotiation over conquest. This is not only a new politics. It is a new masculinity, one that is inclusive of those panhuman qualities previously disowned and projected onto women. It remains to be seen if Hillary Clinton, with her Hobbesian hard-on, will succeed in turning the Denver convention into a war of all against all. If so, the life span of the Democratic Party may be nasty, brutish, and short.

human rights

May 9, 2008

Today's lesson

When you insist that the ends justify the means, you will discover that the ends in fact are defined by the means, that you have made the means the end in themselves.

May 8, 2008

Hillary Clinton, George Wallace

Hillary Clinton, in an interview yesterday with USA Today, referred to her appeal among "working, hard-working Americans, white Americans". She cited this as proof of her "much broader base to build a winning coalition on". Yet she has lost, after a long consistent record of losing in this presidential primary.

She sounds like George Wallace, who broke with the Democratic party to make an independent run for President in 1968 to exploit anti-desegregation sentiment. There's always someone who will take advantage of the worst parts of our character instead of acting to strengthen the better parts.

The phrase "working, hard-working Americans, white Americans" clarifies her meaning at each comma-demarcated step, to assert that white Americans are the only hard-working Americans, indeed the only Americans who do any real work.

During the knickers-twisting over Jeremiah Wright, Pat Buchanan, who regularly says much more "anti-American" things than Wright did, was similarly seething mostly because Wright did not show sufficient appreciation to everything "we" (Americans, i.e., whites) have given "them" (blacks, i.e., Americans only by the magnanimous indulgence of whites).

And so here is Hillary Clinton, "appealing" to the same bigotry, to "white" America as the "real" America, working from the notion that it's "whites" who do all the real work so everyone else can enjoy their freedom and prosperity, which they only abuse by actually thinking that they, too, are Americans and have some right to speak out and even to lead.

American Independent Party: here she comes!

May 4, 2008

It's not all about race, it's fascism vs. dissent

John Hagee and Jerry Falwell have said much worse things than Jeremiah Wright, hateful twisted things. But they direct their wrath towards the disenfanchised and oppressed, not on their behalf, as Jeremiah Wright (like Martin Luther King) has. The right-wing religious do not threaten the powerful. They help to consolidate a paranoiac and retrograde vision of power that is represented in authoritarianism and totalitarianism, empire and military might, and an absence of meaningful debate. They reinforce the majority mob with racism, sexism, xenophobia, and even speciesism. They represent the reactionary forces that recoil from positive change, from real democracy and a nation of freedom and justice.

Jeremiah Wright is doubly cursed for defining himself in terms of the unique history of Africans in this country and thus for reminding Americans of that shameful history, noting that it is not an aberration but a pattern, and that we reap what we sow.

Wright places the blame with the powerful, not with those who have no power. That is unacceptable.

human rights

May 3, 2008

Which means it is all about race ...

Bill Moyers Journal, May 2 (click the title of this post for the complete commentary):

Behold the double standard: John McCain sought out the endorsement of John Hagee, the war-mongering Catholic-bashing Texas preacher, who said the people of New Orleans got what they deserved for their sins. But no one suggests McCain shares Hagee's delusions, or thinks AIDS is God's punishment for homosexuality. Pat Robertson called for the assassination of a foreign head of state and asked God to remove Supreme Court justices, yet he remains a force in the Republican religious right. After 9/11 Jerry Falwell said the attack was God's judgment on America for having been driven out of our schools and the public square, but when McCain goes after the endorsement of a preacher he once condemned as an agent of intolerance, the press gives him a pass.

Jon Stewart recently played a tape from the Nixon white house in which Billy Graham talks in the oval office about how he has friends who are Jewish, but he knows in his heart that they are undermining America. This is crazy and wrong -- white preachers are given leeway in politics that others aren't.

Which means it is all about race, isn't it? Wright's offensive opinions and inflammatory appearances are judged differently. He doesn't fire a shot in anger, put a noose around anyone's neck, call for insurrection, or plant a bomb in a church with children in Sunday school. What he does is to speak his mind in a language and style that unsettles some people, and says some things so outlandish and ill-advised that he finally leaves Obama no choice but to end their friendship. Politics often exposes us to the corroding acid of the politics of personal destruction, but I've never seen anything like this — this wrenching break between pastor and parishioner. Both men no doubt will carry the grief to their graves. All the rest of us should hang our heads in shame for letting it come to this in America, where the gluttony of the non-stop media grinder consumes us all and prevents an honest conversation on race. It is the price we are paying for failing to heed the great historian Jacob Burckhardt, who said "beware the terrible simplifiers".

human rights