At Reid’s clean energy summit, no heretics or blasphemy allowed

Mitch3_1At this past week’s Brother Harry’s seventh-annual Traveling Planet Salvation Show with all-day preaching and singing under the arbor — Can I get a witness, Brother? — presumptive presidential candidate Hillary Rodham Clinton had the faithful standing in the pews with her hellfire and brimstone prognostications.

OK, the sign on the wall behind Clinton said it was the National Clean Energy Summit 7.0, which is put on by Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid, Nevada’s senior senator, but the rhetoric on global warming was overheated, to say the least.

“This is the most consequential, urgent, sweeping collection of challenges we face as a nation and a world,” Clinton recited from the Teleprompter. “You shouldn’t have to say the obvious, that the data is unforgiving, no matter what the deniers try to assert. Sea levels are rising. Ice caps are melting. Storms, droughts and wildfires are wreaking havoc. Thirteen of the top 14 warmest years have all come since 2000. … The threat is real.”

There you have it. The fact that the planet’s average temperature might rise 1 degree Celsius over the next century is more consequential and more urgent to address with your money than Islamic terrorists, ISIS, Putin, Iran, North Korea or the Ebola virus. It is more pressing than the fact the current economic recovery is the slowest since World War II. It is more of a threat to you and yours than the fact that the national debt has increased by $61,000 per household under the Obama administration, while household private sector income has fallen $2,000 a year.

The inconvenient truth is that ice caps have grown in the past two years, while storms and droughts are no more frequent or severe than they have ever been, and there has been no global warming for nearly 18 years, which defies all the global warming computer models.

But everybody was on the same page of their hymnals. Renewable energy projects such as solar and wind are good for the planet and create lots of jobs, they all preached. Never was it mentioned that the renewable energy projects are not viable without taxpayer subsidies that simply kill other private sector jobs at a trade-off rate of two-to-one or that renewable energy simply costs more.

Actually, there were a couple of slips of the tongue from backsliders on the panels.

Jim Murren, chairman and CEO of MGM Resorts, which hosted the confab at Mandalay Bay in Las Vegas, quipped that he should achieve a return on his investment in a solar-equipped home by the time he is 172 years old.

And Paul Caudill, president of NV Energy, caused a few gasps when he cautioned that power customers cannot afford to pay 50 to 60 percent more for electricity too quickly, probably a reference to the fact solar and wind power cost three to four times as much as electricity from natural gas-fired generation.

Though the plans for a lithium-ion battery plant to be built in Storey County to produce batteries for Tesla Motor’s fossil-free electric cars was brought up repeatedly during the day as a great coup for the state of Nevada, it was never mentioned that the governor had cut a deal to allow the plant to operate nearly tax free for the next 20 years. The head of Tesla, Elon Musk, happens to be a Clinton and Obama campaign contributor.

Hillary Clinton, of course, called for still more taxpayer subsidies for her beloved green energy sources and contributors.

“We ought to be moving forward on renewables and the kind of sustainable clean energy future we seek,” she said. “Now today I don’t need to tell you that tax incentives for alternative energy investments are unpredictable at best, while generous subsidies for fossil fuels are still too easy to come by. In fact the world spends more than $500 billion subsidizing fossil fuels every year, bloating budgets and creating incentives against innovation and progress.”

While cherry picking that world subsidy number, she inconveniently neglected to point out that the U.S., according to the American Enterprise Institute, in 2010 doled out $14 billion in subsidies for renewables and $4 billion for fossil fuels. But, when broken down by actual energy produced, the subsidies for fossil fuels amounted to $68.72 per billion BTUs of energy, while renewables received $1,724 per billion BTUs.

They just don’t want to hear those inconvenient facts over in the green energy amen corner.

Thomas Mitchell is a longtime Nevada newspaper columnist. You may email him at He also blogs at


  1. Wow, I don’t know where Murren got his solar equipment, but he must have really been ripped off, because I know several people who are getting returns in 7-10 years. The cost of renewables is steadily catching up to the cost of natural gas and will soon beat it, according to Ryan Wiser from Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory, as he highlighted innovations in blade and rotor design. Since 2012, a “massive proliferation” of these turbines has driven average capacity factor increases up by 10 percent at every level of wind resource. As a result of these advances, costs are falling; preliminary data shows that the average 2013 power purchase agreement was at $0.021 per kilowatt-hour. “These are not your grandfather’s wind turbines,” Wiser said. “They are not even your older brother’s turbines.” Overton Power District is paying over $0.05 for much of the power it currently purchases, more than twice as much! And utility-scale solar prices are now “just over $0.05 per watt, about the same as OPD pays for its filthy power. It is interesting that you are critical of how long it might take to get a return on investment in renewable energy …let me ask you this….what is the return on investment any power user gets on the electricity it buys now….THAT would be $0.00, ever, or I should say NEVER! It’s about time for Tom Mitchell to wake up and try to start thinking in the realities of this century.

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