Google: Not Good on Energy


Over on the Media Blog, Kevin D. Williamson asked readers for their take on whether Google’s politics put them on the side of the angels. By way of answer, take a look at Google’s grand green designs.

Reaching the goals of Clean Energy 2030 will require a comprehensive effort by the new President and Congress. At a minimum, we believe it should include putting a price on carbon emissions, setting national energy efficiency and renewable energy goals, and modernizing our electricity grid. With the right policies, we can drive trillions of dollars of new investment in clean energy and create millions of new jobs.

Here are the highlights of Google’s plan ”to advance clean energy as part of a stimulus package.”

Get money flowing to renewable energy. Many wind and solar project developers can’t take advantage of the renewable tax credits that were just extended. The continuing economic decline has wiped out profits in many companies – and the otherwise expected tax liability that credits offset. Congress should make changes, such as making the credits refundable, to make it possible for investors to get the value Congress intended.

Start building a smarter electricity grid. The last large energy bill passed in 2007 authorized, but did not fund, matching grants and demonstration programs to encourage investment in a “smart” electricity grid. These programs should be fully funded and expanded so more consumers have the opportunity to better monitor and control their electricity use and reduce their bills. A new Department of Energy (DOE) sponsored book explaining smart grid describes it as “the internet brought to our electric system.”

Help people make their homes more efficient. The DOE has a Weatherization Assistance Program that enables low-income families to permanently reduce their energy bills by making their homes more energy efficient. On average, weatherization reduces households’ heating bills by about 30%. President-elect Obama adopted our proposal to weatherize one million low income homes per year for the next 10 years. Current federal weatherization funding supports barely 10% of that number. A roughly $3 billion appropriation would weatherize roughly one million homes.

Green the Government. The U.S. government is the largest consumer of electricity. Accordingly, federal departments and agencies should lead by example when it comes to stimulating the economy through expanded energy efficiency efforts and increased use of clean energy. In addition, the Congress and the President can provide support to State and local governments for efficiency and smart grid projects; the purchase of renewable power; and converting vehicle fleets to low-emission vehicles, particularly plug-in electric cars and trucks. Such concerted government action will speed the advent of a new era of energy security and domestic job creation.

Put Google firmly in the camp of those who think more government is the answer to everything.

All it will take is “a comprehensive effort by the new President and Congress. . . . Putting a price on . . . With the right policies. . . . Stimulating the economy and creating jobs . . . much more needs to be done. . . .Get money flowing to . . . . Congress should make changes . . . programs should be fully funded and expanded. . . . appropriation. . . . Green the Government. . . . Congress and the President can provide support to State and local governments. . . . concerted government action”

Instead, how about this?

The private marketplace is better suited than the government to pick energy winners and losers, so government should step back and let the market find the answers to meeting our energy needs in a reliable and affordable manner. Let the market bring technologies online when the economics of the technologies work without handouts and when the technology is truly (and commercially) viable. Repeal subsidies. Avoid mandates. Don’t put a price on a gas that we exhale and that must exist for human, animal, and plant life to continue. Don’t sign on to emission-reduction schemes that will handicap our economy, while doing little, if anything, to control emissions. Tap our nation’s abundant natural resources, and quit letting exploration and recovery efforts get stalled for years in the courts and in the agencies. Build the baseload units, including nuclear-energy plants, that have always met, can still meet — and must exist if we want to meet the bulk of our energy and electricity demand. Be realistic about the current state of, and future prospects for, renewable energies. Recognize that vibrant free markets and a protected environment are not mutually exclusive goals.

Sound like a winner to anyone else?

Williamson writes, “As Google solidifies its position as the digital world’s dominant media channel, it’s worth considering how they operate and what their values are. Conservatives (particularly we yahoo social conservatives) are right to be skeptical of Google’s corporate politics, which have a decidedly liberalish flavor.” Kevin is right on the money. In fact, when it comes to Google’s preferred energy-policy agenda, their values are more than liberalish, they’re downright statist.


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