In 2016, the Republican led North Carolina Department of Energy permitted citizens to speak at a conference as they were suing the Obama administration to not develop a Clean Power Plan in response to the Paris Climate Change Accord. Some of this is dated, but is still appropriate as we have moved further down the path of renewables the production cost has become even more favorable and we have passed a tipping point.
Last month, I was given the opportunity to speak to representatives of the North Carolina’s Department of Energy and Natural Resources at a public hearing. Our state is included in law suit against the EPA having the authority to require the states to develop a Clean Power Plan to reduce emissions. In companion to this suit, our state leaders developed a poor attempt, in my view, at addressing the required plan.
Here are my remarks which had to be limited to three minutes.
My name is Keith Wilson. I am an Independent voter and NC taxpayer.
I am speaking to you as both a tree hugger and business person.
I am disappointed in our state’s position on the Clean Power Plan and advocate moving the ball further down the path of renewable energy than the plan is required to do.
I say this as per the 2015 Global Risks Report prepared by the World Economic Forum, the two greatest risks noted by member organizations over the next 10 years are:
(1) Global Water Crisis and
(2) Failure to act on climate change
The need to move to renewable energy is more than a climate change issue, it is a water issue. As noted by the excellent Charlotte Observer series last month, we have global, national and regional water crisis, which will only be made worse by climate change.
Water is the new oil.
In the Observer series, it noted that Duke Energy loses about 1%- 2% of water on a daily basis when creating power from the Catawba River using fossil fuel and nuclear energy. The water is lost through dissipated steam.
At a conference called “Our Water: An Uncertain Future” last month, the director of Duke’s Water Strategy noted that Duke Energy includes climate change impact in their water projection models. He noted that they expect to lose an additional 11% of reservoir water due to more evaporation from climate change.
Per Duke’s projections, the Catawba River cannot support the growth in the Metro Charlotte area without change.
The move from water intensive fossil fuel and nuclear energy to renewable energy is key, as solar and wind energy need not be water reliant to create power.
Man-influenced climate change will only make our water problem worse.
From a business standpoint, there are several reasons why the move to renewable energy is key.
The fossil fuel industry likes to tout jobs and impact on people in poverty as drawbacks to the move. These are shortsighted reasons, as solar and wind energy jobs are growing like gangbusters with double digit growth. On the cost of energy being higher, that is also shortsighted as well and is using the wrong equation.
The cost of production of renewables continues to fall and wind energy is the most cost effective source in the UK and Germany, right now. But, that is not the right equation.
A total cost equation will look at the present value cost of production,
- plus healthcare,
- plus environmental degradation,
- plus water loss,
- plus litigation,
- plus maintenance of coal ash sites.
When these total costs are compared, my guess is the result will easily favor renewable energy.
Further, companies like Apple, Facebook and Google are relocating power intensive data centers to NC due to our solar energy success and incentives. These companies are attracted to innovation.
So, the tree hugger in me says you better be concerned about our water and what climate change will do to it.
The business person in me says, the better bet is on renewables.
Let me close that this is not just a progressive issue. Per a ClearPath survey of conservative voters, 75% favor a move down the path of renewable energy.
It is time our state and national leaders caught on to this desire. My strong recommendation is to approve the Clean Power Plan and stop wasting taxpayer money on the shortsighted EPA lawsuit.