PLACERVILLE, CALIFORNIA

Opinion

Micro-savings

By From page A4 | July 12, 2013

Three years from now — in 2016 — new energy standards for microwave ovens go into effect. Does that mean they’re only going to produce lukewarm coffee? Hmmm.

Actually, it seems microwave ovens consume 4 watts of electricity just being plugged in and waiting to be used. So, now they will, in the near future, be designed to consume only 1 watt while standing idle.

The 4 watts adds up to 35 kilowatt-hours in a year. We’ll give the Department of Energy good marks for knocking down those standby watts. This information comes from Andrew deLaski, executive director of the Appliance Standards Awareness Project, who noted that typical microwaves spend 70 hours heating up food and 8,690 hours on standby. Ninety-five percent of the homes have microwaves. Even the poor have some pretty good amenities — TVs, microwaves, cell phones, air-conditioning.

Well, the Department of Energy is so happy with its microwave energy savings that it estimates the combined savings over the next 30 years for consumers will be $3.4 billion — not counting the cost of buying a new microwave. The electricity saved will be 69 billion kilowatt-hours. That assumes that everybody doesn’t keep the microwave they have for the next 30 years and buys a new one after 2016.

Energy Secretary Ernest Moniz estimates we will all save $400 billion on utility bills as a result of energy efficiency standards adopted for various appliances over the last four years.

The May 31 press release issued by the Department of Energy touts the reduction in “carbon pollution.”

After that the press release concluded by adding in some bizarre accounting called the “social cost of carbon,” which it abbreviated SCC, and claimed it was “based on the best available science, used to calculate the societal and health benefits of reducing greenhouse gas emissions…” And the DOE adds up the cost of SCC over the next 30 years to be $4.6 billion.

This casual mention at the end of a press release was the first revelation of this bogus bookkeeping stunt. There was no public notice and no invitation for comment. And what kind of “science” came up with this “social cost of carbon” mumbo jumbo? It may be social, but it ain’t science by a long shot.

Oh, just wait till the EPA brings out its “social costs” calculator. Carbon is a made up emission. Smog is an emission. Carbon is short for carbon dioxide, which plants need to grow. Commercial greenhouses pump in extra carbon dioxide to boost plant growth.

This carbon social benefit amounts to $36 a metric ton, according to the Wall Street Journal’s calculation. It had been zero before. And that’s where it should go back to: $0.

The “social cost” fakeout is going to be used to drive up the cost of electricity by wasting more taxpayer money and ratepayer money on high cost wind and solar projects. It will also be used to ultimately reject the Keystone XL Pipeline, which would have reduced the possibility of train disasters such the one that incinerated part of Lac Megantic in Quebec.

Instead of devoting attention to real energy savings like better freeway systems and more oil pipelines, the Obama administration is trying to regulate efficiency of ceiling fans, which manufacturers point out is already a way for consumers to save money on cooling homes. This, too, will be another “social cost” multiplier.

Mountain Democrat

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