There has been a hue and cry over the Trump transition team asking DOE for explicit information, with a list of 74 questions.
The media has criticized the questions as a witch hunt targeting scientists. Michael Halpern of The Union of Concerned Scientists said,
“If the Trump administration is already singling out scientists for doing their jobs, the scientific community is right to be worried about what his administration will do in office. What’s next? Trump administration officials holding up lists of ‘known climatologists’ and urging the public to go after them?”
Of course, this is what the Attorney General from New York, and Senator Whitehouse of Rhode Island have already been doing by targeting so-called deniers.
Willis Eschenbach commented on all 74 questions in an article on WattsUpWithThat, http://bit.ly/2hp3dax His comments concern the relevancy of each question.
I’ll limit my comments to the 15 questions relating to the Energy Information Administration (EIA), as many of my articles highlighted how the EIA published misleading information in support of the administration’s CO2 climate change agenda.
For example, the EIA included a charge for carbon in its LCOE calculation for coal-fired power plants without referencing the charge in the LCOE table. This charge for carbon inflated the LCOE for coal-fired power plants from 6 cents per kWh to 10 cents per kWh, a 67% increase.
The existence of the carbon charge was buried in the text accompanying the LCOE table, so most readers would miss it.
It used to be the practice of the EIA to publish realtime, current data, but beginning a few years ago, the EIA started publishing estimated, future LCOE costs. This hid the true nature of the high cost of wind and solar. For example, The EIA is currently publishing LCOE for power plants entering service in 2022 … these are estimates, not facts.
The cost of transmission lines to accommodate wind and solar are either omitted or trivialized in the EIA LCOE data. Their cost, however, can be very high. For example, the cost of transmission lines to achieve a mere 20% penetration by wind was developed by the Midwest ISO, and came to $80 billion … And this only covered the Eastern half of the United States.
Numerous articles have pointed out that wind and solar are unreliable and require backup by fossil fuel power plants, yet the cost of this backup power is omitted from the EIA’s LCOE calculations.
From my perspective, the 15 questions are appropriate and relevant, given the examples of EIA misinformation cited above.
List of transition team questions of the EIA.
- EIA is an independent agency in DOE. How has EIA ensured its independence in your data and analysis over the past 8 years? In what instances do you think EIA’s independence was most challenged?
- Part of EIA’s charter is to do analyses based on Congressional and Departmental requests. Has EIA denied or not responded to any of these requests over the last ten years?
- EIA customarily has or had set dates for completions of studies and reports. In general, have those dates been adhered to?
- In the Annual Energy Outlook 2016, EIA assumed that the Clean Power Plan should be in the reference case despite the fact that the reference case is based on existing laws and regulations. Why did EIA make that assumption, which seems to be atypical of past forecasts?
- EIA’s assessments of levelized costs for renewable technologies do not contain back-up costs for the fossil fuel technologies that are brought on-line to replace the generation when those technologies are down. Is this is a correct representation of the true levelized costs?
- Has EIA done analysis that shows that additional back-up generation is not needed? How does EIA’s analysis compare with other analyses on this issue?
- Renewable and solar technologies are expected to need additional transmission costs above what fossil technologies need. How has EIA represented this in the AEO forecasts? What is the magnitude of those transmission costs?
- There are studies that show that your high resource and technology case for oil and gas represents the shale gas and oil renaissance far better than your reference case. Why has EIA not put those assumptions in your reference case?
- Can you describe the number of personnel hired into management positions at EIA from outside EIA and compare it to the number of personnel hired into management positions at EIA who were currently serving at EIA?
- How does EIA ensure quality in its data and analyses?
- Where does EIA think most improvement is needed in its data and analyses?
- We note that EIA added distributed solar estimations to your electricity data reports. Those numbers are not part of your supply/demand balance on a Btu basis. Why has that not been EIA updated accordingly?
- How many vacancies does EIA have in management and staff positions? What plans, if any, does EIA have to fill those positions before January 20?
- Is the EIA budget sufficient to ensure quality in data and analyses? If not, where does it fall short?
- Does EIA have cost comparisons of sources of electricity generation at the national level?
Actually, the 74 questions asked of DOE will only provide important clues about the organization.
The media may be focussed on the 74 questions, but they are merely the tip of the iceberg.
Finally, there is the ultimate alternative, eliminate the DOE as proposed by William O’Keefe at http://bit.ly/2hlJfju
The appointment of Governor Rick Perry will certainly put the abolition of the Department of Energy in the crosshairs, as, in the past, he has said it should be abolished.
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Nothing to Fear is available from Amazon and some independent book sellers.
Link to Amazon: http://amzn.to/1miBhXy
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