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Picture of Dorian Gray and Renewables

May 29, 2015

The picture of Dorian Gray is a story about a young man who commits heinous crimes, but never seems to age. Unknown to all who know Dorian Gray, there is a portrait of him stored in an empty upstairs room that records every crime as a blemish on his body. The face becomes increasingly hideous as each scar, worm and deformity is added to the portrait with the commission of each crime.

Meanwhile, Dorian Gray goes through life looking as he did when he was twenty years old.

He retains his youthful look and zeal while the painting relentlessly records his true grotesque soul.

1890 magazine cover with Picture of Dorian Gray by Oscar Wilde

1890 magazine cover with Picture of Dorian Gray by Oscar Wilde

The picture of Dorian Gray is an apt metaphor for today’s drive for renewables.

There is a constant stream of information describing renewables, such as wind and solar, as providing profound benefits to mankind.

It’s the image of a young Dorian Gray.

The picture is always of a youthful technology, without blemishes, that is beguiling people with promises of an everlasting environmentally pure future. It seeks out new followers, just as Dorian Gray did as he cast around the streets for his next victim.

But the real picture of renewables is hidden from view, just as Dorian Gray’s picture was hidden in the upstairs room.

In this instance, the picture is hidden behind rhetoric and a lack of technical knowledge among the audience being beguiled with fanciful stories.

The huge cost of developing storage and other facilities required to accommodate renewables is not mentioned by Dorian Gray’s protégés as they expound upon the benefits of renewables.

Similarly, the future cost of electricity is brushed aside as not important, when in fact, reports, such as by an independent advisory panel, project higher electricity costs, over and above those estimates made by the advocates of renewables. See

The huge new capital costs and the much higher electricity rates are monstrous blemishes on the picture hidden from the public.

The potential eventuality of privately run utilities being replaced by a government monopoly, run by bureaucrats, is never mentioned, and hidden from public view. See, The Duck Speaks.

In the old days, people were taken in by snake oil salesmen brandishing magic elixirs with a shill in the crowd to stimulate sales.

Today, the story is more sophisticated, relying on glitz and glamour, superficial and misleading promises, and fawning acolytes, today’s shills, such as was the case with Tesla’s introduction of the Powerwall and Powerblock batteries.

It’s time for people to start asking about the hidden picture, the one with all the blemishes and distortions, and learn about the added costs, the need for higher taxes for government operated utilities and the loss of freedom that renewables, and their related activities, such as demand response and mandated efficiency requirements, are bound to bring.


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8 Comments leave one →
  1. James Burkes permalink
    May 29, 2015 9:50 am

    One of the most odious blemishes is the pitch that things like solar and wind are “new”, or “modern” technologies. They are not. In fact, they are ancient, even primitive sources of energy. Windmills, for example, date back to the early Middle Ages. Wind power was used centuries B.C. for driving sailing ships. Solar energy was used by cave men to warm stones and keep their caves and burrows warm for a short period into the night. Similarly, biomass (wood burning) dates back to the Neolithic age, when lightning-sparked fire from downed tree limbs was first used to cook raw meats and vegetables. So it is ironic in the extreme when these ancient energy forms are portrayed today as “the future” when they in fact date back to the far distant past. And, conversely, the newest and most modern form of power generation, nuclear energy, is painted as “old” and “aging”. Truly a world gone mad.

  2. Steve Andelman permalink
    May 29, 2015 9:57 am

    Hi Donn,
    One of the factors you have mentioned in prior postings is the cost of maintaining the grid while paying customers for their excess energy. Don’t some power companies pay the lowest rate for excess power. If so, does this (help) cover the costs of maintaining the grid?
    Steve A

    • May 29, 2015 10:18 am

      Yes, some utilities pay a low rate, essentially comparable to their cost of generating electricity.
      No, it doesn’t help pay for maintaining the grid. Ordinarily, the only time a customer helps pay for maintaining the grid is when he pays for the electricity he uses. The rate he pays includes the cost of maintaining the grid.
      Which raises an interesting point. What if the customer with PV rooftop solar can get all the electricity he needs from his PV system? He pays nothing to the utility. But he still expects to be able to get electricity from the grid when his PV system doesn’t work. What’s that worth to the customer?

  3. donb permalink
    May 29, 2015 1:21 pm

    The utility furnishing power should charge a separate connection or line fee to each customer, and then a charge for electricity used above that. Individuals with their own power sources for part or most of their needs would pay for the option of drawing line power whether they use any or not.

    • May 29, 2015 2:16 pm

      That’s a solution, however in Arizona when the utility began to charge $50 per month as a connection charge, environmentalists sued, saying the fee was too high.
      To me, $50 per month or $600 per year is too low. There is far greater value than that for the ability to connect. What would it cost to install sufficient batteries to go off the grid. Capitalize that amount, and it could be a fair connection price.
      What seems logical, isn’t satisfactory to this who want get rid of fossil fuels.


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