I sent this to the BDN for publishing as an OpEd. Will see if it gets printed.
A Reply to Charles Colgan and his “Cheap, Dirty Coal” Article
What really scares me is having an economist like Charles Colgan teach our young people economic theory. He is completely antithetical to solid economic reasoning, something that most of the liberal economists continue to try and push down our throats. He believes that imposing onerous taxes and fees on certain industries will level the playing field. This is communism. In a country where new and different industries are treated like that, every price goes up. Industries should be judged on their value to the customer, and the price set as to what the market will bear. If it is too expensive, it will die and something new will try and take its place. If it is subsidized, it will only increase the price and nothing new will come forth, forcing the customer to settle for something they don't want, but are forced to pay for. We are a FREE MARKET country, or at least we were until the last decade or so, and especially the last four years. This is really simple, and should be what is taught to young entrepreneurs of today.
Let's look at some of the issues Mr. Colgan raises.
First, look at the picture attached to the story. If you notice, the exhaust rising from the stacks is white, not grey or black. Coal fired plants have been forced to clean up their act over the last 20 years, and at great cost have done so. In spite of the huge expenditures, the energy they produce is still among the cheapest power we have. New England has very few coal fired plants.
Second, raising everyone else's rates does NOTHING to reduce the high costs we pay here. Our costs are going up to pay for upgrades to our grid, a grid that is perfectly adequate to perform for us based on population expectations for the next forty years. The only thing that makes it unacceptable is trying to force huge amounts of wind power, power that is unreliable, skittering, pulsing and surging all the time. Our recent upgrade, $1.5 BILLION, is just a start, and it raised our rates for supply 20%. Iberdrola, the Spanish Wind company that now owns CMP, has told us we need further upgrades to the tune of $19 to $26 BILLION if we want to go further with wind. Just think how high our rates will go then!!! That is 20 times the current upgrade. Where is your economics now Mr. Colgan.
Third, the carbon tax is a scam. Nothing more needs to be said. It is the creation of non-scientists and non-economists like Al Gore and his ilk.
Fourth, Angus King set the whole Wind Scam in motion as he left office and turned things over to Baldacci. He has been involved in the wind business since 1989 when he founded Northeast Energy Management who championed tearing down our dams to make way for wind. He sold the company in 1994 and netted (after taxes) $8 million. This funded the carpetbagger's run for Governor. On his way out the door of the Blaine House, he passed a bill that further set the course for wind. The bill set a goal to make Maine's energy 30% renewable, but excluded hydro . . . . isn't that interesting. Probably the cleanest, cheapest most environmentally friendly and totally renewable power source was excluded. He and his partner Rob Gardiner promptly opened up Independence Wind and petitioned the Baldacci regime for an open door to decimate our mountaintops. Please Professor Colgan. Do not try and minimize Angus King's participation.
Fifth, we are still watching some of the best power producers in our state ripped out. The dams in Old Town and Veazie, perfectly good and important to our state, are being torn out to restore sea run salmon and other fish to the Penobscot. There is no guarantee that the salmon will ever run up the river again, but there was a guarantee that those dams would have produced power, cheap and reliable, for the next hundred years. No one currently alive can ever remember a sea run salmon on the river. The dams have been there for more than 100 years. Building fish ladders around the dams would have been a cheaper and more energy saving alternative.
I think that Professor Colgan should recheck his facts and figures before diving head first into waters he has no idea how deep they are, especially for Mainers.
Jim Lutz, Bangor