Daily Archives: 06/27/2010

Boardman Plant and Money vs life

I attended a public Oregon Public Utilities Commission hearing this week. The subject was the future of coal power in Oregon. A lot of college kids with strong pro environment views showed up. Some asserted that closing PGE’s Boardman plant coal plant in 2014 (if not even sooner) was a matter of life and death. Really though what hurts the economy is also a matter of life and death. I think lives will be lost with no Boardman plant, because of the high cost of doing so.

You can get the close the plant point of view here:

http://itsgettinghotinhere.org/2010/06/24/oregon-rallies-for-a-coal-free-future-at-public-utilities-commission-hearing/#comments

They want to close the plant, and assert (misuse really I think) the company’s data to say it is best economically to close the plant. But really even if the fact that plant is a huge economic asset to the state could be made clear, I don’t think most of these idealistic folks would be convinced. They think lives and the environment will benefit from no coal plant in Oregon, and don’t care about the economic cost.

My comeback was this, that I don’t think will ever make it out of moderation on gettinghotinhere site:

I was at the hearing, and it was good to see so many public spirited kids.

I also work for PGE. I’m skeptical that the alternative energy technologies are anywhere near as ready to easily replace proven technologies like coal, as you may assume. After all coal is one of the USA’s most abundant fuels. but I know you’re not going to believe much of anything I assert given my biases, so here’s a challenge.

If you are convinced that solar is as viable as you say, in addition than political action, get into the solar business, and see how many folks you can woo to “go off the grid”. I think the cost of solar and most renewables will make this a hard sell.

If you are right you’re helping the environment and delivering superior energy technology. You’ll win you’re point in free competition and undermine a state franchise monopoly, rather than just trying to gain political control of it. The result: a stronger freer economy; PGE will learn how wrong we were; and a cleaner environment.

If you are wrong, at least you’ve learned a valuable lesson, and may focus on how we can improve the environment with proven technologies, as I think PGE is attempting.

It’s Not just money!!

Wealthier societies are in general much healthier. People live longer. Pushing growth can allow many more social welfare oriented gains to happen, like concern for the environment.

My point we need to recognize any thing that hurts economic growth isn’t just about money: people will lead shorter lives that are lacking in other ways.

An Aging Population+Rising Medical Cost = Exploding Debt

Courtsey of the Incidental Economist.

The health act may have the seeds of reigning in the explosion in health costs and a worsening fiscal situation. I think the Obama reform may raise a number of challenges, but realistically I don’t think we could have just continued the status quo. The latter is all the GOP seemed to propose.

I continue to think Obama is on the right track, even if the politics are not going his way right now.

The Incidental Economist Posts

via Cowen’s Road.