Least Carbon Planning

Do you remember least cost planning and how it was implemented in our energy supply system?  Do you remember that we considered both supply and demand side options, and made decisions on the long term, recognizing that there might be some near term more expensive items that, over time, would yield the best lowest cost options.

It was a rigorous analysis system that became the basis for regulatory proceedings.  There were gray areas where benefits were contestably uncertain, but the fact that it was a precise mathematical method offered everyone involved a transparent mechanism for negation and planning.  Yes, you could always second guess decisions after time passed, but it did offer some level of certainty to all involved.  That certainty offered utilities the ability to raise capital and be assured of cost recovery.

By contrast, we now live an uncertain world of carbon accountabilities, carbon credit uncertainties, and ESG abuse.  It is almost like we have transported ourselves back 150 years into the “wild wild west” once again with booms, busts, and almost half of the national currency being counterfeited.  Think about it:

If we accept that carbon dioxide release levels in the environment now replace the cost elements in this formula, we should be evaluating the energy alternative portfolio reflecting both the near term carbon emissions from these choices along with the longer-term estimates.  Under this type of thinking, beneficial electrification should be time phased: meaning promoting electrification in the short run may confound the end goal of carbon dioxide releases because the electricity today is far from green.

Therefore, banning internal combustion engines in cars makes no sense in the near term, and certainly not until and unless the electric grid is mostly carbon free.  Plus, when you consider that it can take 10-20 years before today’s high mileage EVs will ever have a net positive impact on carbon impact, all this push for EVs in the short run is escalating carbon dioxide releases.

Don’t you think it is high time we slowed down, stepped back from the edge, and took a cold hard look at our plans?  Why are we rushing to build our way out of the past rather than to also consider a softer path on the energy use side?

What’s really going on here?  Why haven’t we learned the lesson from the energy industry in the 1970s?


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