Dear Consumers Energy,

Why asking me for $1.50 per month to help you build more windmills is ridiculous:

A new study from Utah State University found that, as of 2013, Michigan’s renewable energy mandate, enacted in 2008, has cost families and businesses here a bundle: $15.1 billion overall, or $3,830 per family, compared to what we would have experienced without the mandate.

According to the study, the economies of all states with a renewable portfolio standard, or RPS, have suffered harm. Among the negative effects are a nearly 14 percent decrease in industrial electricity sales, plus losses in both personal income and employment. A key finding was that an estimated 24,369 jobs have been lost in Michigan because of the mandate, which is in effect a mandate for wind energy.

And, just for a bit of juxtapositioning on the “science is settled” front this morning:
MASSIVE GLOBAL COOLING process discovered as Paris climate deal looms

Update: 5:54PM
More unsettling science – WELL RATS: OCEANS NOT DYING AFTER ALL

Open letter to Consumers Energy

I recently received from you a mailing asking me to contribute $1.50 per month to something called the Green Generation program. According to that letter, my contribution would support “projects like the Michigan Wind Farm in Ubly, which generates enough enough electricity to power every home in a city the size of Battle Creek for one year.

You neglected to mention how much standby generation by conventional means is still required. At least a third of us know that, “Wind is so undependable that fossil fuels have to be available to supplement it over 50 percent of the time.” Maybe I’m part of a less green, as in naive, generation – because your appeal did not inspire me.

I suppose it is in your interest to avoid mentioning wind power reliability when asking me directly to support your latest attempt to suck up dwindling Federal subsidies for windmills. Especially since Consumers Energy is statutorily allowed profit margins of 10 to 12 percent annually, and is guaranteed a 90-percent share of the market by the State of Michigan, while you spend money on misleading advertising about electricity choice: To make sure we don’t have it.

If Solyndra had your deal, they’d still be in business.

Would supporting projects like the one in Ubly include contributing to monopoly maintenance advertising? It’s a reasonable question. Any reasonable answer would include reference to the word “fungible.”

Your letter reminded me that a good part of your past profitability is related to money you’ve already received from me via taxes and surcharges. This realization did not produce the effect I think you desired, since it prompted me to check on how bad that damage has been and continues to be.

In 2011, you bragged about $29 million in property tax revenue a wind farm project,

“…is expected to provide to Mason County over the first 20 years of operation. The Mason County Planning Commission approved a special land use permit application for the $232 million Lake Winds Energy Park project last week.

What was left out of the press release was that “the project is expected to receive $72 million in federal tax credits from the federal stimulus program, the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act. Consumers Energy spokesman Dennis Marvin said the $72 million in federal tax credits is expected to come over a 10-year period.”

That’s net $43 million for Consumers Energy from Federal taxpayers, after $29 million in redistribution pass-throughs. And how’s that lawsuit about this wind farm working out for you?

From 2009 through 2011 you charged me $2.50 per month as a Renewable Energy Surcharge. I already paid for constructing the damn windmills, but, as we’ll see, maybe not for the maintenance.

Now you’re asking me to give you just $1.50 of my own volition. Why didn’t you ask the Michigan Public Service Commission (MPSC) to put that back on my invoice? You’re running sort of a poll, I guess, anyone dumb enough to contribute probably voted for the guy who said he’d make electricity rates involving coal “skyrocket,” and the results might be able to be used to pressure the MI legislature.

In November 2014the MPSC approved a settlement agreement authorizing Consumers Energy to recover $9,752,187, with interest, in deferred major maintenance expense.” That’s one way to ensure your profit margins stay in double digits. What interest rate was used?

In December 2014, Consumers Energy requested of the MPSC “an electric rate increase of $163 million in its electric rates. On June 4, 2015 Consumers self-implemented a portion of the requested increase, $110 million, subject to refund, as authorized by the MPSC. The rate increase reflects major company investments to maintain and improve service.” Maintenance again, how much of it is for windmills?

In September of this year you charged me $1.41 for the income taxes you pay on your “securitization charge” – charges for which you billed me an additional $2.49. So, I’m paying $3.90 a month, over a third of which is your taxes, so you canreplace traditional financing with low-interest bonds, lowering overall costs for customers.” Thanks.

In September I paid $4.14 for “Energy Efficiency” “that helps recover costs associated with the company’s Energy Efficiency Programs required by the 2008 energy law.” Maybe not your fault, but I can’t recall any lobbying against it. Certainly nothing reaching the level of your fight to maintain your 90 percent monopoly.

From June through September you charged me extra for usage over 600 kWh becauseThe tiered pricing structure reflects the higher price to buy and produce electricity during the summer. This is primarily because of the increase in customer demand (load on the system) associated with air conditioning… Consumers Energy does not make a profit on the cost of fuel or purchased power.

OK. I guess you are more likely to purchase power (Ontario?) when the wind isn’t blowing. And, of course, you’re using fuel to keep your standby generators turning anyway. That’s like me paying twice.

I realize this green idiocy is not all your fault. We have more than enough fools in the State and National legislatures. However, they didn’t force you to waste money on that mailing insulting my intelligence, and you’re more than happy to take ‘their’ money. Unfortunately, the money isn’t sufficiently laundered. I know a bunch of it came out of my pocket.

So, while I appreciate the opportunity to further the green propagenda, I think I’ll wait until you’re begging me for funds to dismantle windmills instead of building more. Then I’ll laugh. Until the legislature lets you bill me for it.

If you’d really like some help, I could get behind a big effort to build some nuclear plants. I’ll bet there’s enough concrete in those windmill pads to have built a couple already.

Citizens for Enervating Michigan’s Economy

“Citizens for Energizing Michigan’s Economy” opposes competition among Michigan’s electricity suppliers. The Mackinac Center for Public Policy has some thoughts on CEME’s recent misleading ad campaign. (The ad can be viewed from that link, if you aren’t aware of it.)

A new commercial is attempting to make Michigan residents fear electricity deregulation.

It claims that Texas “decided to experiment with deregulating their electricity,” and subsequently, prices “shot through the roof” and “blackouts threatened communities.” It then tells that a proposed bill in this state that would “deregulate Michigan’s electricity.”

Not exactly…

For starters, state policymakers are not considering electricity deregulation. The cited legislation — Rep. Mike Shirkey’s House Bill 5184 — merely lifts the cap on the portion of consumers who would be able to choose an alternative electricity provider (other than the one assigned to them by Michigan’s current monopoly system). The electricity market in Michigan would remain just as regulated as it is now. The state would still control which utilities could operate and would continue to regulate rates, among other things…

[T]he average residential retail price of electricity in Michigan increased faster than Texas’s over the last decade and remains significantly higher. Texas’s rates were about eight cents per kilowatt hour in 2000 and about 11 cents in 2013. Michigan’s rates were about 11 cents per kilowatt hour in 2000 and increased to almost 15 cents in 2013, the highest in the Midwest region and 11th highest in the nation.

Where has CEME been for the last 10 years, when we needed them?

Ask yourself who benefits from the 10% Michigan cap on electricity competition: You, or DTE and Consumers Energy?

According to a National Association of Broadcaster’s form indicating who placed the ad (NAB Form PB-18), “Citizens for Energizing Michigan’s Economy” consists of three individuals:

John Truscott
President/Principal at Truscott Rossman:

John Truscott is one of the foremost experts in public relations and politics in Michigan. When you need to develop a message, assemble a strategy, generate publicity or make a new connection, nobody does it better.

Howard Edelson:

[I]s campaign manager for the CARE for Michigan coalition and founder of The Edelson Group. In addition, Edelson is the past president of the Great Lakes Renewable Energy Association and was campaign manager for the 2006 Granholm for Governor Campaign.

Formerly, Edelson was Director of Governmental & Regulatory Affairs CMS Energy Corporation (1995-2005); Chief of Staff U.S. Representative Bob Carr (1992-1995) and Field Director MI Democratic Party (1983-1984).

Rhoda Tinkham appears to be a retiree from Consumers Energy.

Why you should not vote for Rick Snyder

Be not afraid: Your vote will not hand a victory to the Democrats and it will not be “wasted.” Snyder has a 20 point lead. Voting for a limited government candidate will send him a message, not elect his opponent.

Why does Mr. Snyder need such a message? Mainly because he sincerely believes government should actively interfere in the economy by picking economic winners. This is not different from Ms Granholm, nor from Mr. Bernero. They all agree that they can command the economy to perform better than can the invisible hand.

Here are Mr. Snyder’s corporatist credentials:

As its first Director, he “created” the disaster known as MEDC, and now thinks it merely needs reform, rather than elimination. Adding injury to insult, after he left MEDC he availed himself of $7.5 million in MEDC funds. Rick Snyder believes that government “picking winners” is a good idea if it’s done by the “right” elite. So do Granholm and Bernero. They differ merely in who comprises the elite.

When asked about Michigan’s preposterous subsidies for the movie industry, Mr. Snyder said he wants to continue them, but to do so in a way that makes sure Michigan companies get the benefit. As an example of such reform, he would eliminate catering from out of State. That’ll show Jenny how the game is played.

Snyder emphasizes continued State subsidization of the mythical “green job.” Jennifer’s bankrupt ethanol plants, ill-advised windmill subsidies and battery manufacturing give-aways will bring prosperity if only we put the “right” bureaucrats in charge of picking the technology-of-the-month. If they could do this, they wouldn’t need a taxation system. They could run the State off their investment gains.

In his single debate, Mr. Snyder indicated he thinks making Michigan a right to work state is not worth the trouble, despite much evidence to the contrary. Right to Work States Gain Billions It is hard to accept the idea that Snyder isn’t aware of this. But…

He won the primary at least partially as a result of soliciting Democrats to cross party lines. This strategy was viable because he did not give (and has not given) any clear idea what he actually intends. His “tough nerd” policy documents are devoid of specifics. Snyder’s strategy succeeded because the vote for candidates with clear limited government platforms was split. Rick Snyder is either putting one over on the Democrats or he will continue the command-and-control economic policies so dear to his predecessor. On the evidence, I think it’s the latter.

In this key area the difference between Snyder and Bernero is the funding channel, not the recipient. Snyder will use an MEDC-like intermediary. Bernero will give directly to the unions. Corporatism is a bad idea no matter who is in charge, and notwithstanding the spoils distribution mechanism.

The good news for those hesitant about a third party vote? Given Snyder’s double digit lead, you can play the politics as the multi-year game it is instead of just rejecting, yet again, the greater of two evils. It’s a free vote protest against statism. It’s without electoral consequence, but still carries policy implications.

Sending this message to Snyder isn’t some mindless obsession with purity. It’s part of presenting a coherent message to other voters and to politicians. It is about offering a real contrast with the bankrupt lunacy of the Democrats. Do you really want to hear, for the next 4 years; “See, Republicans do the same thing!”? If not, you need to do everything you can to constrain Rick Snyder.

In summary: Rick Snyder gives every indication of being a corporatist’s best friend. If you want to encourage him to adopt more sensible economic policies, don’t let him get a double digit win. Given Snyder’s 20 point lead you can vote for a third party without worrying about Virg Bernero. You should consider this so as to send a message to Mr. Snyder: “STOP THE SUBSIDIES. GET GOVERNMENT OUT OF PICKING ECONOMIC WINNERS!”

Vote for Stacey Mathia or Ken Proctor.

If the Taxpayer Party/Libertarian Party vote doubles the expectations – say getting to 12% – Rick Snyder may get the message. If he doesn’t, he’s no nerd.


First the NYT, now Slate, recognize that Electric Vehicle subsidies are a boondoggle.  This Slate article points out that the market for 4 seat electric hatchbacks with the appointments of a Cobalt, but priced like a BMW 335i, is composed primarily of those whose household income is over $200K, and “where weather, state regulations, and infrastructure are all favorable to electric vehicles.” This accurately describes certain areas in Southern California.

Read the whole thing at Slate, but here are some teasers:

…Annual sales [of all EVs] will hit no more than 465,000 by 2020 … a mere rounding error in a 250-million-car national fleet.

…It’s doubtful that the government’s electric-car push can “create” net jobs, as opposed to moving them around within the economy. Absent robust consumer demand, of course, the new production facilities will go idle and lose money.

…The shakeout should begin within five years… [and] factory workers in Michigan will be back out on the street—unless their companies successfully lobby for a [yet another] federal bailout.

…Of all the findings in Deloitte’s market research, the most poignant was its profile of electric car “non-adopters.” They have average household incomes of $54,000, live in the suburbs and rural areas, and depend heavily on their cars. There are millions and millions of nonadopters all across America. They are the middle class.

It has been argued that the subsidies to manufacturers and to buyers are necessary for the preservation of the middle class.  In reality, the middle class are the people contributing the largest share of tax dollars to subsidize Volts and Leafs for drivers in West Los Angeles with household incomes of $200K – so that handful of UAW members may enjoy a very uncertain employment future.

More Electric Vehicle news

When you’ve lost the New York Times, well you’ve lost an elitist institution most of whose members wouldn’t have bought a Volt in any event.

So the future of General Motors (and the $50 billion taxpayer investment in it) now depends on a vehicle that costs $41,000 but offers the performance and interior space of a $15,000 economy car. The company is moving forward on a second generation of Volts aimed at eliminating the initial model’s considerable shortcomings. (In truth, the first-generation Volt was as good as written off inside G.M., which decided to cut its 2011 production volume to a mere 10,000 units rather than the initial plan for 60,000.) Yet G.M. seemingly has no plan for turning its low-volume “eco-flagship” into a mass-market icon like the Prius.

Quantifying just how much taxpayer money will have been wasted on the hastily developed Volt is no easy feat. Start with the $50 billion bailout (without which none of this would have been necessary), add $240 million in Energy Department grants doled out to G.M. last summer, $150 million in federal money to the Volt’s Korean battery supplier, up to $1.5 billion in tax breaks for purchasers and other consumer incentives, and some significant portion of the $14 billion loan G.M. got in 2008 for “retooling” its plants, and you’ve got some idea of how much taxpayer cash is built into every Volt.

Yep, electric cars are a way to create jobs: for Federal bureaucrats. If that money had been left in private hands, and only 10% of it went to new car purchases, it would have created more jobs for autoworkers than is the case. Not to mention all the other industries that could have benefited.

Electric Vehicle news

Not good. Kenneth P. Green, at The American Enterprise Blog, crunches some numbers on the $41,000 Chevy Volt. Read the whole thing, but here are some highlights:

[The Volt is] more than twice as expensive as a comparable gasoline-driven car. …[T]he government will give each …[buyer] a $7,500 subsidy, and another grand if they install their own charger at home (apartment owners … get to subsidize homeowners with this one). President Obama wants a million electric cars on the road by 2015, …[so], it’s safe to assume the subsidy would remain, sucking only $8.5 billion dollars out of taxpayers coffers…

Of course, that’s only the direct subsidies… 80 percent of vehicles aren’t parked in the garage of the person who owns them, which means there are going to have to be a lot of public charging stations built at taxpayer expense. And the gasoline that electric owners don’t consume also takes tax revenue out of the Highway Trust Fund, meaning that if there is massive penetration of cars that don’t use gasoline, some other way will have to be found to maintain transportation infrastructure.

Skyrocketing electricity rates, maybe?

Summary: There will be a Synfuels-like perpetual subsidy for a few hundred jobs. The Feds bought GM, forced it to bring the Volt to market ASAP and are propping up the experiment with your tax dollars throughout the manufacturing and sales cycle. You pay to build them and you pay people to buy them.

Meanwhile, technology marches on. Toshiba has announced it will begin production (in Japan) next year of a competing type of battery for Electric Vehicles, the SCiB (Super Charge Ion Battery). It has some advantages over the batteries planned to be built in Michigan by LG Chem and A123.

The battery’s specs claim 6,000+ charge/deep-discharge cycles with minor capacity loss, safe rapid charging to 90% in 5 minutes, and enhanced safety regarding overheating or shorting out. It could make its way into electric vehicles before long.

Is this a battery that can be built, without retooling, in the Michigan plants being subsidized by government? Will the innovation have to be licensed from Toshiba? I don’t know, and I’m sure neither our Governor nor the President do either.