Obama’s 3 New Solar Plants: The Facts

July 4, 2010





On Friday, President Obama announced plans to provide $2 billion in funding for the construction of three new solar energy electric power generating plants, one each to be built in Arizona, Colorado and Indiana. 

I’ve provided three links above.  The first is a Reuters article about the announcement.  The second is an article that provides some facts about the plants – their design and capacity.  The third is an article that provides data about the total annual consumption of electric power in the U.S.

From these articles we can deduce certain facts.  These three plants combined will generate 840 megawatts of power.  Assuming the Arizona plant can generate electricity for 18 hours per day (because of its use of technology that stores the energy for up to 6 hours past sun-down) and the other plants can provide electricity for 12 hours per day, that’s a capacity of 4.3 million megawatt-hours.  The projects will create 5,000 jobs, of which 1500 will be permanent jobs.  The plants will be completed in about three years.  Contrary to those who say that this is just more deficit spending, adding to the national debt, the $1.9 billion is actually in the form of loan guaratees, all of which will be paid back.

Annual electric power consumption in the U.S. is about 4200 million megawatt-hours.  That’s about 14 megawatt-hours per person. 

Doing the math, we find that these three plants combined will generate enough electric power to meet the needs of about 300,000 people.  The problem is that our population grows by that many people every five weeks.  So, regarding the claim that this will help reduce our dependence on foreign oil:  it will, for about five weeks.  After that, we’ll be even more dependent on foreign oil.  By the time these plants come on line in 2013, our population will have grown by 30 times the number of people that can be supplied with electricity by these three plants. 

Regarding the claim that this will add 5,000 new jobs:  that’s being very disingenuous.  By the time that these plants come on line in three years, providing 1,500 permanent jobs, population growth (driven mostly by immigration) will have added 4.5 million workers to the labor force.  If this is the president’s plan for cutting unemployment, he’s coming up short by 4.9985 million jobs.  And besides, if he had done nothing, the extra power required for this population would have been generated anyway, whether through fossil fuel power plants or through these solar plants, adding the same number of jobs (give or take) regardless.

Don’t get me wrong.  I’m not opposed to switching to solar and wind power and away from fossil fuel.  If I were president, I’d be imposing huge tariffs on imported oil and would be providing loan guarantees for three new renewable energy plants every week.  The point I’m trying to make is that we can never, ever attain energy independence or put our people back to work solely with approaches like these.  It’s impossible without adopting a population management strategy that stabilizes and even reduces our population.  And restoring full employment is impossible without a trade strategy that takes immediate steps to restore a balance of trade, bringing our manufacturing jobs back home.

It’s such a shame that, in spite of the promise of hope and change, we’re instead saddled with yet another president who is squandering the incredible chance he’s been given to put this country back on a path to energy independence and sustainability and economic prosperity.  Mr. President, please, sit down and spend just an hour doing some math and decide for yourself (without listening to Larry Summers and Christine Romer) what’s needed to permanently correct the direction in which this country is headed.

Another Perfect Example of Conserving Space

March 30, 2008


Check out this article about housing in Sedona, California.  They are actually considering allowing families to live in rented “Accessory Dwelling Units” – essentially sheds with plumbing – erected on the property of existing single family homes!  Imagine what that will do to the average per capita consumption of products in Sedona! 

The per capita consumption-destroying space conservation warned of in Five Short Blasts is well underway in America.  What will it take?  When will we ever consider the one common solution to this housing problem, our energy dependence problem, our carbon emissions problem and so many other problems?  We need a population management policy in America to stabilize and eventually reduce our population.


State of the Union Address

January 30, 2008

A few words are in order regarding the President’s State of the Union address on Monday night.  The president raised two issues that are of particular interest to me, of course.  First of all, he raised the issue of free trade, imploring Congress to pass free trade agreements with Columbia and South Korea.  And he did some “cheerleading” for free trade in general, observing that exports are up and that we need to open more markets to American goods. 

Secondly, he implored Congress once again to pass immigration reform with features that make it easy for immigrants to arrive legally to do the work that “needs to be done.” 

I have no problem with a free trade agreement with Columbia.  With a population density of 103 people per square mile, they are very similar to the density of the U.S. (83 per square mile) and so they represent no threat to American manufacturers.  South Korea, however, is a far different story.  With a density of 1257 people per square mile, more than 15 times as densely populated as the U.S., their market is very badly stunted by over-population.  They have virtually no market to offer in return for access to ours.  This deal would be a guaranteed loser for American manufacturers.  If fact, it already is.  Cars from South Korea – Hyundais, Kias and even Chevy Aveos – have been pouring into this country for years, contributing to the devastation of our domestic auto manufacturers.  In return we get absolutely nothing.  It’s a crime against the American people to permit such a situation to persist. 

Regarding his general cheerleading for free trade, yes, exports are up a little.  As a result, our annual trade deficit is something like $710 billion per year instead of $720 billion.  The result is a loss of 14 million jobs.  Free trade cheerleaders like president Bush always conveniently ignore the import side of the trade equation.  Opening new markets is fine, as long as they are markets that are equivalent to ours, where their customers are likely to buy as much from us as we buy from them.  I am not opposed to free trade.  On the contrary, I believe that free trade in natural resources and between countries of roughly equal population density is truely beneficial.  However, free trade with countries that are much more densely populated than us is a sure-fire loser for domestic manufacturers and should never be pursued. 

Regarding immigration, we do need immigration reform.  We need to seal the border and then work to reduce legal immigration by 95%.  Rampant population growth is the number one challenge facing this country.  No progress on problems like energy independence and global warming is possible without first stabilizing our population, not to mention the damage done to Americans’ finances and quality of life by increasing our population density. 

We need a president who’s willing to face realities and take meaningful action to address the real problems instead of symptoms.