EIA releases Annual Energy Outlook 2011

Lynne Kiesling

Today the Energy Information Administration released the 2011 Annual Energy Outlook (link is to executive summary). This year’s outlook explores scenarios that include updated forecasts of shale gas production, which have changed considerably since last year’s outlook, as KP readers know due to Mike’s excellent analyses.

Another aspect of the analysis that will be of interest to KP readers is their modeling of expected production of renewable energy:

Electricity generation from renewable sources grows by 72 percent in the Reference case, raising its share of total generation from 11 percent in 2009 to 14 percent in 2035. Most of the growth in renewable electricity generation in the power sector consists of generation from wind and biomass facilities (Figure 3). The growth in generation from wind plants is driven primarily by State renewable portfolio standard (RPS) requirements and Federal tax credits. Generation from biomass comes from both dedicated biomass plants and co-firing in coal plants. Its growth is driven by State RPS programs, the availability of low-cost feedstocks, and the Federal renewable fuels standard, which results in significant cogeneration of electricity at plants producing biofuels.

As usual, though, I wouldn’t take those forecasts to the bank, or to your venture capitalist for financing; quite a bit of clean tech investment that is subsidy-dependent has not been getting funding, even with the subsidies and the RPS carrots/sticks … and then there’s the implosion of the Spanish renewables venture capital market with the reduction in subsidies.

Jonah Lehrer on voter ignorance

Lynne Kiesling

It shouldn’t surprise you to find, given my recent working paper on Adam Smith, sympathy, and mirror neurons that I am an avid reader of neuroscience writer Jonah Lehrer. His post today riffs off of President Obama’s birth certificate to muse on voter ignorance. In discussing some research on the subject, he observes

Why does more education lead to less accurate beliefs? The answer returns us to the difference between rational voters (what we think we are) and rationalizing voters (what we really are). It turns out that the human mind is a marvelous information filter, adept at blocking out those facts that contradict what we’d like to believe.

It sounds like he and Bryan Caplan should have a little blog exchange on neuroscience’s implications for the results of Bryan’s book The Myth of the Rational Voter. It also sounds like yet another reason why we should strive to make as few important decisions as possible through political means.

Montana-Alberta transmission line developer wants eminent domain power to overcome landowner’s resistance

Michael Giberson

The Montana-Alberta Tie Line, a transmission project linking Alberta and Western U.S. power markets, has stalled over the resistance of one landowner, who has claimed the proposed line would cross wetlands and native American heritage sites on her land. MATL tried exercising eminent domain last July to take the easement it wants, but late last year a court ruled the private company does not have that authority. The court case has headed to the Montana Supreme Court. The state legislature has debated bills to clarify legal authority in such cases – one way or another – but it looks like they may take no action instead.

MATL offers a  map of the proposed line on its website. The property under dispute is described as east of Cut Bank, Montana (near the substation at the line’s midpoint).

Environmental groups and energy development interests in the state have tended to side with MATL. While this particular line may have modest effects on the ability of local grids to take wind power, these interests are looking forward to the next transmission line battle and want the ability to condemn the private property when they deem it necessary.

From the National Eminent Domain Blog:

Apparently, Montana Alberta Tie Line is seeking to have the Montana Supreme Court act as a legislature. There has been no delegation allowing the utility to condemn under the Montana Major Facility Siting Act. Despite this, MATL wants the Montana Supreme Court to find a delegation of authority to condemn even though no such permission exists under present Montana legislation.

Of course MATL disputes the claim of “no delegation,” see their opening brief filed at the Montana Supreme Court, linked below.