Coal Follies

Coal Follies by Peter Burrows – 7/7/19 

New Mexicans are going to pay a huge price for shutting down the coal-fired San Juan generating plant and the coal mines that supply it.  Hundreds will lose their jobs and our electricity bills are going to go through the roof.  While this is going on, the world-wide use of coal to generate electricity will be INCREASING dramatically.  

Why is New Mexico going one way, the world another? Because the poor people of the world know that to escape poverty, they need electricity, the cheaper the better. The relatively rich people of New Mexico have lived so long with cheap electricity that they have forgotten that elementary economic fact. They will relearn it as expensive renewable-electricity replaces cheap coal-electricity.   

Some of the environmentalists who rule New Mexico know that renewables will cost more, but they could care less. They see coal as the number one cause of global warming –- catastrophic global warming — so shutting down the coal-fired San Juan generating plant is doing God’s Work. If it takes a little dukin’ and jivin’ to get the public to go along, so be it. It’s for their own good.    

Really? I wonder if the public would buy the con if they knew the facts about world-wide coal use. China, for example, gives lots of lip service to cutting carbon dioxide emissions while building “a massive cohort of hundreds of new coal-fired plants,” so many that the added capacity “nearly matches the entire capacity of the existing US fleet of coal stations: 266GW.” 

Furthermore, China is busy building dozens of new coal-fired generating plants OUTSIDE of China, especially in Pakistan and Indonesia.  The alleged cost effectiveness of renewables has apparently gone unnoticed in Pakistan, where wind and solar “account for only 10 percent” of the new electricity. Probably too cloudy and not windy enough in Pakistan.  Right.  

India is another country ostensibly supporting carbon reduction policies while building lots of new coal-fired plants. India has 36,158 gigawatts of generating capacity under construction and another 57,800 GW in the planning stages, which together will increase India’s coal-fired electric generating capacity by over 40 percent. 

The Times of India last January 22, headlined: “52 coal mines opened in 5 years to fuel power drive,” noting that the new mines had added 77 million metric tonnes to India’s annual coal production, an increase of 113% to 164 million tonnes.  That compares to New Mexico’s annual coal production of 13, 844,000 short tons ( which equals 12,559,000 metric tonnes 

To put this in perspective, New Mexico’s environmentalists would have us believe that we are making a meaningful contribution to the war on global warming by curtailing our use of coal while India, just the nation of India alone, in the last five years has increased coal production by over 6X the TOTAL New Mexico production. India coal production is now over 13X what New Mexico produced last year, and India isn’t through expanding both its production and use of coal.   

India and China aren’t the only nations increasing the use of coal generation. Worldwide, the megawatts of capacity under construction and in the planning stage will add over 15% to world coal-generating capacity. 

Question: If New Mexicans knew that shutting San Juan was going to cost both a lot of jobs and lot of money at the same time the rest of the world was building more San Juans, HUNDREDS more San Juans, do you think they would have gone along with it? I would hope not, but this is New Mexico, land of Insanity.  





Public Service of New Mexico’s Big Con

Public Service of New Mexico’s Big Con  Peter Burrows 6/26/19 

New Mexico’s new energy law requires that by 2025, just over five years from now, 40% of our electricity must be from renewable sources, mostly wind and solar.  Environmentalists and politicians tell us this will lower our electricity bills. They are wrong.   

Empirical evidence from around the world is irrefutable: Adding wind and solar-generated electricity to an electric grid INCREASES electricity costs. This has been known for a long time, yet the push to increase renewables is unrelenting.  

Why? Ignorance is one reason. Few people have the time or inclination to study how electricity is produced, but that excuse doesn’t fly for Public Service of New Mexico, PNM. After all, electricity is PNM’s business.  They know how much more expensive electricity is where renewables are mandated, yet according to the Rio Grande Foundation, PNM lobbied FOR the 40% renewable requirement by 2025.  


Why? The simple answer is that it will be good for PNM’s business. To achieve 40% from renewables, which is nearly ten hours a day, PNM must build a lot more solar and wind capacity and back it with storage. This will require a very large investment, which will mean more profit for PNM.    

Almost all of this new capacity will be redundant, by which I mean it will not replace any fossil fuel generation, but be in addition to it.  Germany provides an example of what I’m referring to.  In 2015 a German think tank published a report that showed Germany’s peak electricity demand in 2013 was 83 gigawatts and total generating capacity was 192 gigawatts, well over twice the peak demand. 

Furthermore, of that 192 GW, 84 GW were renewables, enough to supply Germany’s peak demand. You might think that makes Germany 100% renewable.  Far, far from it. In spite of building all that renewable capacity, Germany has not shut down any fossil fuel capacity because all of it is needed for when the wind doesn’t blow and the sun doesn’t shine.   

All those redundant solar panels and windmills still have to be paid for, don’t they?  That’s why Germans pay about 30 cents a kilowatt and you and I pay about 11 cents.  If PNM achieves 40% renewable, our cost of electricity could be as high or even higher than Germany’s.     

That’s not the impression left by PNM spokesman Carlos Lucero at an informational meeting in Silver City on April 16, 2019. When asked if future rates would go up relative to inflation, he was quoted in the Grant County Beat as saying, “That depends on the infrastructure needs and how we pass on the costs that may or may not increase customer bills.” 

Since renewables need more “infrastructure,” a.k.a. generating capacity, and that capacity will be largely redundant, PNM’s infrastructure costs will have to go up, just like in Germany. To say this “may or may not increase customer bills” is literally accurate, but very misleading.  There is only one way our bills are going to go, Mr. Lucero, and that is up.  

Finally, PNM would have us believe they are fighting tooth-and-nail against the environmentalists.  Don’t believe it.  PNM lobbied to increase renewables and they announced the company will be 100% emission free by 2040, five years ahead of the legal mandate.  No environmentalist could ask for anything more.    

I believe, but can’t prove, that PNM’s management thinks that cutting carbon dioxide emissions is a global necessity, damn the costs. Since joining the renewable crusade also benefits the company, they see it as a win-win situation.  Hence, PNM is not only going with the flow on renewables, they are manning the oars.  

This will cost us, big. Don’t buy the con that it won’t.   

New Mexico: Land of Enchantment or Land of Insanity?

New Mexico: Land of Enchantment or Land of Insanity? by Peter Burrows 6/1/19 – 

In the 2019 legislative session, New Mexico lawmakers did a couple of really stupid things: they increased the minimum wage by a whopping 20% starting January 1, with more increases to follow; and they increased the renewable portfolio standards (RPS) from 20% in 2020 to 40% by 2025, 50% by 2030, and 80% by 2040.  

What this means is that investorowned electric utilities, such as Public Service of New Mexico, are required, by law, to generate their electrical needs from renewable sources, such as wind and solar, in the percentages mandated.  These new requirements were enacted without proof of feasibility.  

Furthermore, the new law, called the Energy Transition Act (ETA), does not place any restraints on how to reach the 2030 50% goal.  No mention of protecting grid reliability, no mention of limiting the cost. And it’s going to cost. Big time. In fact, getting to 50% by 2030, just ten years from now, will cost so much that I doubt it will be achieved.  

At 50%, the cost to store electricity to use when the sun isn’t shining or the wind isn’t blowing will cost at least $.05 per kWh, and that assumes battery costs drop by two-thirds. Add to that the cost of adding redundant solar/wind to charge the storage, roughly three times the rated capacity; plus the cost of shutting down the San Juan Generating Station, plus the costs of replacing San Juan’s production with reliable back-up generation, and I predict our electricity bills will go up at least 50% to meet the 50% renewable goal,    

And the 80% by 2040? It ain’t gonna happen. You can quote me.  

At least the 80% goal has some common sense restraints: 80% only if the cost to do so is “reasonable” and the reliability of the electric grid is not compromised. Also, going from 50% to 80% cannot be at the expense of zero carbon-emission electricity, which essentially means solar and wind can’t replace nuclear power. The 2040 mix could therefore be 80% renewables and 20% nuclear.    

Interestingly, the ETA’s RPS for 2045 specifies “100% zero-carbon emissions.”  I wonder, does that open the door for nuclear power to provide 100% of New Mexico’s electricity in 2045? Given the prohibitive costs of wind and solar and their disruptive effect on the electrical grid, that would be a desired outcome. “Zero carbon emissions” is not necessarily the same thing as “100% renewable.” 

This is a surprisingly sensible clause — some would call it a loophole — in the new law.  Could it be that someone in the new administration realizes that nuclear power is the ONLY economical way to get to zero carbon dioxide electricity generation? Hmmm. Maybe not so stupid after all. We shall see.     

For the emotional environmentalist, such as those at New Energy Economy in Santa Fe, any amount of nuclear is too much.  On the other hand, for the rational environmentalist, any amount of wind and solar is too much.  

Some of you are thinking, “There can’t be ‘too much’ wind and solar, Burro.   Windmills and solar panels will save the world from the carbon dioxide so casually spewed by greedy capitalists and other selfish people who want the benefits of affordable electricity. You are obviously an evil-racist-climate denier.”   


Nonetheless, there is a growing dichotomy within the “Green” movement.  On one side, there is the renewables-at-all-cost crowd, and it seems that no amount of experience will convince them to abandon wind and solar.  California, for example, is finding it very expensive to deal with a growing SURPLUS of solar generated electricity, yet last year California passed a law requiring all new homes to have solar panels. If you think that will increase the solar surplus, go to the head of the class.   

(You Tube: “California’s renewable energy problem,” 18 minutes. Posted 5/25/19.) 

Sandy Jones, when he ran for reelection to the NM Public Regulatory Commission, said that he loved California because they were always showing us what not to do. Naturally, such a sensible person was not reelected.   

On the other side, there is a growing recognition that wind and solar are impractical solutions to the perceived dangers of carbon dioxide. This is not a new idea. Microsoft founder, liberal, and climate alarmist Bill Gates, said years ago that the cost of going 100% renewable would be “beyond astronomical.” I recently read another analyst who said the cost would be “stupendous.”  

The Clean Air Task Force, a Boston-based energy policy think tank, estimated the storage cost for California to reach to reach 50% would be $49 per megawatt-hour, or five cents per kilowatt-hour. To reach 100% renewable would cost $1,612 per megawatt-hour, or $1.62 per kWh.  Do you think that qualifies as “stupendous?”  That’s just for storage, nothing for all the additional solar panels and windmills needed to charge the batteries.   

These estimates assumed that technical advances would reduce the cost of lithium batteries by two-thirds.  Even if we cut that optimistic forecast by half, the cost of storage at 100% renewable is still $812 per megawatt-hour, or 81 cents per kWh.  For comparison, my last bill from PNM, before taxes and fees, was about 12 cents per kWh. 

Francis Menton, who has written extensively on energy, in an article in the Manhattan Contrarian last August estimated it would cost California, at current battery prices, $1.9 trillion for 80% renewable, and $7.2 trillion for 100% renewable.   Again, this is just for storage, nothing for all the extra capacity needed to charge the batteries.  

Divide the lower number by ten, and California could build 13 Diablo Canyon nuclear plants, enough to provide over 100% of California’s electricity, and with zero carbon emissions.  It is no wonder that Bill Gates believes, along with many others, that the only economically feasible way to reduce CO2 emissions from power generation is to use nuclear power.  He thinks the wind and solar push is part of the problem, not the solution: 

A couple of years ago, Michael Shellenberger, a Time Magazine “Hero of the Environment,” (No, I didn’t make that up!) came around to Bill Gates’ point of view. Shellenberger ran for Governor of California last year as an environmentalist who opposed shutting down California’s last nuclear facility, the Diablo Canyon plant.  He got .4% of the vote in the Democratic primary.             

To understand why Shellenberger opposes wind and solar, see an 18 -minute talk he recently gave:    For a print version: 

Shellenberger closes his You Tube talk with this memorable question: “Now that we know that renewables can’t save the planet, are we going to keep letting them destroy it?”  

In fairness to our New Mexico legislators, I’m sure none of them have ever been asked that provocative question.  Most New Mexicans are sold on the idea that we have an abundance of solar, plus quite a bit of wind, and that exploiting these assets will benefit New Mexico’s economy.  Add to that the belief that electricity from solar is now cheaper than coal or nuclear, and it isn’t surprising if people think renewable energy will lower our electricity bills.   

A recent fact sheet from, an environmental organization, is typical. It states that the ETA “protects consumers and reduces electricity costs as New Mexico moves away from coal.” The same fact sheet says, “Renewable energy is among the least expensive sources of energy and New Mexico contains premier sites for its development.”  

Other environmental organizations say much the same. A 3/17/19 article by Maria Najera of Western Resource Advocates says the ETA will “strengthen New Mexico’s economy” and protect New Mexicans by “reducing electricity costs.” New Energy Economy has made numerous statements of a similar nature.   

They are wrong.   I know of no place in the world where adding wind and solar to an electric grid has lowered the cost of electricity.  Even with zero storage, compensating for the intermittency of wind and solar is expensive. 

Those claiming that renewables will lower our electricity bills should be able to prove it.  If I had been a New Mexico legislator, I would have made that my number one question:   

1)  Could you give an example of where renewable energy has lowered the cost of electricity, anywhere in the world? 

2) The 50% RPS in 2030 requires that wind and solar provide 12 hours of electricity every day.   How much storage will that require and what would that cost, using best-available technology? What are numbers for 80% in 2045?  

3) Would it make more sense for New Mexico to delay its RPS standards until the cost of storing solar and wind generated electricity is not prohibitive?   

4) My bill from PNM has a line-item charge for renewable energy, not a credit.  As the RPS increases, will that charge increase or will it turn into a credit?  

5) In the future, another line-item charge will compensate PNM for being forced to prematurely shut down the San Juan coal-fired generating plant.  How much will that be, and how long will that go on?  

6) Electricity is the base-commodity all modern economies are dependent upon.  How does making electricity more expensive “strengthen” an economy?   

7) Are there any places in the world where people install wind and solar without being paid to do so, i.e. subsidized, or mandated to do so?  

8) Last question: If Michael Shellenberger and Bill Gates think renewables are a problem, not a solution, and if renewables are used only if subsidized or mandated, doesn’t that make renewables virtually worthless?  

New Mexico: Stuck on Stupid

New Mexico: Stuck on Stupid by Peter Burrows 4/25/19  –

The economist Walter Williams once wrote that minimum wage laws were “breathtakingly stupid.” Welcome to New Mexico, where the minimum wage will jump 20 percent on the first of January to $9 an hour, on its way to $12 in a few years.

It could have been worse. Rep. Patricia Roybal Cabellero, D-Albuquerque, proposed $15 an hour starting next year, which would have made New Mexico’s minimum wage the highest in the nation, breathtakingly stupidest, so to speak.  I wonder what Rep. Cabellero pays HER employees? It’s so easy to be compassionate with somebody else’s payroll.

Would Rep Cabellero, who is doubtlessly a very nice person, think it acceptable if the police were to walk into her home and take something in order to give it to someone earning less than whatever she thinks is an appropriate wage?   That’s what she wanted to do to New Mexico’s employers with her $15 proposal.

You’re thinking, “Whoa, Burro! Outright theft is not the same thing as a minimum wage law.”

That’s only because minimum wage laws are a LEGAL form of theft. The biggest difference is that the intended victim, the employer, has the option to either go along with the robbery or thwart the crime by going out of business.  In either event, the employer is the bad guy, not the badge-wearing thief.

And that illustrates the most obvious stupidity of minimum wage laws: the assumption that poverty is caused by evil employers because they don’t pay “enough.”  This in turn rests on the false assumption that employers are the source of the workers’ wages. They are not.  The customer pays all the bills, folks, including the payroll.

That means that when Robin Hood Government robs the employer to pay the employee, it is the customer who gets the arrow, not the employer.  And if the customer ducks, i.e. refuses to pay the higher prices necessitated by a higher minimum, the business closes and the worker who loses his job is the one who takes the arrow.

Albuquerque, Las Cruces and Santa Fe already have minimum wage laws greater than $9. Those three cities comprise over 35% of New Mexico’s population and are solidly Democrat.  Seen in that light, we are fortunate that $15 wasn’t enacted into law.

Even at $9, I’m afraid our corner of New Mexico is going to have a lot of arrows coming our way in the upcoming year.  Grant, Hidalgo and Catron Counties have a combined population of 35,000, less than five percent of the three cities mentioned above and less than two percent of New Mexico’s population. Furthermore, since 2010, the three counties have suffered almost a seven percent DECREASE in population since 2010.

The area’s three largest employers, the mine, the university and the hospital, will probably be able to withstand $9.  Walmart will hire fewer people, but at least they’ll keep the doors open, something questionable at $15.  The many small businesses will try to pass on the wage increase and some will not be able to. We shall see.

In the meantime, attracting new businesses will be a tough sell with a $9 minimum going to $12.  The message sent is loud and clear: “Hey employers!  Nine dollars now and twelve coming! Take that, you evil-dirty-exploiting bastards!”

Breathtakingly stupid.

Reparations? No Thanks

By Peter Burrows 4/8/19

Years ago, the billionaire Warren Buffett was asked about the secret to his success and he said something like, “Well, first, I was born in America. I won that lottery.”

Indeed, to be born in America is a Heaven-sent blessing and is not something any of us can take credit for, which is one reason why I refuse to take any money from my black brothers and sisters, who are understandably grateful to be living here and not in Africa.

Furthermore, my ancestors came to America from Ireland in the 1840s and had no connection to the slave trade, which means I can’t point to any black and say, “You here because of me, so pony up!”

My Scotch-Irish ancestors settled in Chicago and while they were probably abolitionists, I can’t prove it. Also, I’m pretty certain none of them joined the Union Army during the Civil War which means I’m not entitled to any reparations for that, either.

Bottom line: blacks don’t owe me anything for either bringing them to America as slaves, or for then shedding blood to free them. Since reparations are supported by most of the Democratic Party’s presidential candidates, I can’t in good conscience vote for any of them.

That doesn’t mean, however, that I won’t keep any reparations money that comes my way. After all, I’m an old white dude who’s entitled to receive a little gratitude from all those pro basketball players, hip-hop artists, and other millionaire blacks.

Plus, Roberta Flack has not answered any of the letters I’ve sent her over the years which has hurt my feelings no end. That’s a little personal, but it’ll make reparations from blacks easier to take, though not as easy as reparations from Italians would be.

You’re thinking, “Italians? What are you talking about, Burro?” Let me explain.

Cicero, the Roman statesman and philosopher who died in 51 BC, once advised his fellow Romans not to buy slaves from the British Isles because he found them “difficult to train,” i.e. stupid. This proves that Italians owned slaves who were my ancestors, ergo Italians owe me reparations.

Rubbing salt in the wound, Cicero showed contempt for my relatives by insulting their intelligence. He disrespected them. He dissed them, in fact, he be dissin’ me, the Dago Wop bastard! The next time I get a pizza from Papa John’s, I AIN’T PAYIN!!!

Why, the more I think about reparations, the more sense it makes. I must be a Democrat.

Judge Jeanine and Left-handed Muslims

Judge Jeanine Pirro and Left-handed Muslims by Peter Burrows 3/22/19 and 

Fox News has apparently canceled “Justice with Judge Jeanine” because she raised a question concerning Muslim Congresswoman Ilhan Omar: 

“Omar wears a hijab, which according to the Koran 33:39, tells women to cover so they won’t get molested. Is her adherence to this Islamic doctrine indicative of her adherence to sharia law, which in itself is antithetical to the United States Constitution?” 

As Catholics and Mormons can attest, questioning how a politician’s religion may influence that politician’s politics is hardly new.  JFK and Mitt Romney come to mind, and neither had to explain why their religion’s adherents were murdering people around the world, as Muslims are doing today. (See 

Furthermore, since such carnage is being done in adherence to Islamic theology, Judge Jeanine’s question is entirely appropriate. The fact that Fox management “strongly condemned” her comment is appalling, and illustrates something I‘ve advocated for quite some time: When criticizing Islam or Muslims, always quote the Koran. 

How can you be an Islamophobe or a racist if you are merely quoting the Koran?   

Quoting the Koran also educates, or at least it SHOULD educate, those who are defending Islam because they accept the politically correct, and wrong, notion that “Islam is peace.” Furthermore, nothing condemns the Koran, and Islam, more than the Koran itself does.  It is a great weapon against Islam.  

Judge Jeanine could have added:  

“Muslims must obey the Koran, Allah’s eternal guidance, and in Verse 5:38, Allah commands: As for the thief, male or female, cut off the hands of both. This is an exemplary punishment from Allah.  

“Exemplary punishment from God, folks. Let me add that the consensus among Muslim jurists is that it is the right hand should be cut off first. Representative Omar, you believe you must wear a hijab.  Do you also believe a thief should have his or her right hand cut off?”    

As a smart-ass aside, I would have added, “Representative Omar, is calling somebody ‘lefty’ an insult in Islam?  

Open letter number two to Mariel Nanasi

Open Letter Number Two to Mariel Nanasi, Executive Director of New Energy Economy (NEE), Santa Fe, NM, by Peter Burrows, 2/28/19 

Dear Ms. Nanasi 

I received an email today from NEE which contained the following statement:  

“NOW is the time for a new model of energy production and procurement. We can have locally produced solar, wind and storage, and efficiency at lower cost than gas produced energy 300 miles away.” 

I would like to know if there is any place in the world where “locally produced wind, solar and storage” is cheaper than electricity produced by gas-fired turbines.  Outside of a few research stations in the Antarctic, there is no such place. Neither is there any place where wind, solar and storage are cheaper than coal-fired or nuclear generated electricity.  

I believe you have relied on misleading government statistics when you assert that renewable energy is more cost effective than the use of fossil fuels or nuclear energy.   

The Department of Energy, on their Energy Information Administration (EIA) website, analyzes something they call The Levelized Cost of Electricity, LCOE, for different forms of electricity under a myriad of different assumptions. If you read the text carefully, you will find that they caution against comparing LCOEs between different forms of energy as that can be “misleading,” yet in table after table, comparing such LCOEs is precisely what the EIA does.  

Whether deliberate or not, the EIA virtually ignores the costs of intermittency that are inherent in wind and solar power.  Ignoring these costs means that LCOE comparisons with fossil or nuclear energy are meaningless. It’s not a matter of comparing apples to oranges. It’s more like comparing apples to basketballs.  

Perhaps the worst thing about the LCOE numbers is that they give economic legitimacy to renewable energy when in fact renewable energy is virtually worthless. It is only produced because of government mandates and subsidies. 

Just ask yourself, if renewables are in fact the cheapest form of electricity, why are coal-fired generating plants still being built? In India, for example, hundreds of new coal-powered generating plants are under construction, many of which will burn coal from one of 80 new coal mines opened since 2009.   

India’s coal production in the six months April to November, 2018, was 434 million metric tons, an increase of 39 million tons over the previous year. Annualized at 78 million tons, India’s incremental annual production is over six times all the coal produced in New Mexico last year (~12.6 million metric tons.) Sub-Saharan Africa is also forecast to be greatly increasing the use of coal-generated electricity in coming years.   

Ms. Nanasi, you are trying to avert a global climate catastrophe by shutting down New Mexico’s use of fossil fuels, yet much of the rest of the world is pursuing policies that totally overwhelm anything we can do here in New Mexico.  Furthermore, your policies will be hugely expensive, something relatively poor New Mexico doesn’t need.  

Wouldn’t we be better off heeding the advice of Bill Gates, who in 2015 said that the cost of 100 percent renewable electricity would be “beyond astronomical,” and simply eliminate new Mexico’s Renewable Portfolio Standard entirely?  I’m with Bill on this one. For an update on his views, please see: 

Ms. Nanasi, if the Department of Energy’s LCOE numbers are not the basis for your contention that solar and wind are cheaper than fossil and nuclear, please tell me what is the basis for your belief. 

Sincerely, Peter Burrows –