Energy/Environment Media Bullet Points

by William Yeatman on February 23, 2015

in Blog

Sunday Shows Shun AGW (yet again); Apple’s Solar Deal Confuses Reporters; the Willie Soon “Conflict of Interest” Comet Makes Another Pass; and More

  • *question second-guessed President's alarm over AGW

    *question second-guessed President’s alarm over AGW

    Last weekend, there were again no questions about climate change on any of the four Sunday morning political talk shows (i.e., NBC Meet the Press, ABC This Week, CBS Face the Nation, and Fox News Sunday). In the five weeks since the SOTU–during which President Obama announced that “no challenge poses a greater threat to future generations than climate change”–these shows collectively have fielded exactly one question about AGW. And the purpose of that lone query, asked last week by ABC This Week’s Jon Karl, was to second-guess the President’s belief that AGW is no less a threat than *violent extremism* or Russian aggression. As I’ve previously explained, the absence of climate questions “is notable insofar as these shows are the embodiment of the political establishment. By ignoring the putative AGW threat to national security, they suggest that conventional wisdom on the issue rests well to the right of the President.”

  • There is much misplaced media optimism over Apple’s announcement this month that it would pay $850 million to purchase 25 years of output from 130 MW of solar power nameplate capacity (with an estimated 30% capacity factor) to be built in Monterey County, California.
    1. Bloomberg’s Tom Randall wrote that the deal will be “profitable” for Apple. It’s unclear how he could know this given that the full contract terms haven’t been disclosed, as Randall himself concedes. More importantly, what little that is known about the deal suggests that it will be far from “profitable” for Apple (see next point).
    2. Slate’s Daniel Gross wrote that the deal is proof that solar power “can compete on or near equal footing with other sources of power.” Yet initial analysis of the deal’s terms by Forbes’s Christopher Helman, based on the announced sale price and the likely capacity factor of the planned solar power plant, suggests that Apple will pay roughly $100/MWhr for electricity; by comparison, wholesale electricity on the California spot market now costs about $34/MWhr.
    3. Nichola Groom of Reuters wrote that Apple’s deal could serve as a “template” for big American companies to “use large-scale solar plants to bypass utilities when they need to power their operations.” Yet the deal doesn’t “bypass utilities”; rather, it incorporates them as an integral component of the plan. According to Forbes’s Ucilia Wang, “Apple won’t directly use the electricity from California Flats, but it will get credit, at wholesale rates, from the local utility, Pacific Gas and Electric, for sending that much energy into the grid.”
  • Over the weekend, the New York Times penned a hit piece on global warming *denier* Dr. Willie Soon, for having accepted research funds from fossil fuel interests. According to a tweet by University of Colorado’s Roger Pielke, Jr., media tales alleging that Dr. Soon supposedly suffers from a conflict of interest recur with alarming regularity:

rpj (1)

  • NPR last week broadcast a segment on what life is like for the 300 million people in India who don’t have electricity. In a nutshell, life is really hard. Below, I’ve reposted a photo from the piece, depicting dung laid out to dry so that it can be used as fuel. In fact, more than a billion people worldwide are similarly without. The piece raises tough questions, such as: What’s more important? Getting these people electricity, ASAP? Or getting “beyond coal.”


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