On Thursday (November 16) a publication called City & State (specializing in covering New York state and local government) put on a conference they called the “2023 Clean Energy in New York Summit: New York’s Path to Sustainability.” Let’s call this the New York Krazy Klimate Konference. I showed up to observe and report on the festivities, along with another prominent skeptic, Roger Caiazza of the Pragmatic Environmentalist of New York blog.
The Krazy Klimate Konference featured a gaggle of high-ranking New York bureaucrats and legislators, there to report on New York’s exciting progress toward Net Zero nirvana; plus an even larger gaggle of grifters and parasites looking to cash in on the big piles of government loot sure to get passed out along the way. The co-Chair of New York’s Climate Action Council — Doreen Harris — gave the Keynote address. Other presenters included several members of the State Assembly, as well as bureaucrats in charge of the so-called “energy transition” on the Governor’s staff, at the State Energy Research & Development Agency (NYSERDA), at the City Department of Environmental Protection, at the City Department of Buildings, and so forth. Wind and solar energy grifters were also prominently featured.
As readers here likely know, the first big step in New York’s transition to carbon-free energy is supposed to be the construction of some 9000 MW nameplate capacity of off-shore wind turbines in the Atlantic Ocean off Long Island. Contracts for about half of that have been issued after a competitive bidding process. Unfortunately, between July and October, nearly all of the contractors for the off-shore wind announced that they were walking away from the deals, absent massive price increases. The Public Service Commission thereupon rejected the price increases, but as of the time of the Konference nobody had figured out the next step. Thus, as we listened to the speakers, New York’s headline initiative to move toward carbon-free energy was literally dead in the water.
You might think that the focus of a Konference like this would be addressing the very serious obstacles that stand in the way of the hoped-for energy transition. These issues include not only the escalating costs of constructing wind turbines that had led to the contract cancellations, but also things like dealing with the intermittency of wind and solar electricity generation, and solving the energy storage problem. If you think that this Konference might have grappled in even a semi-serious way with any of those issues, you would be wrong.
Instead, it was essentially all mindless happy talk.
As mentioned, the first speaker was one Doreen Harris. Here is a picture I took as she began her address:
As I took the picture, Ms. Harris was uttering the words “I co-chaired our Climate Action Council.” That’s the Council that last December issued the so-called “Scoping Plan” telling us how to achieve carbon-free energy — a “Scoping Plan” that in 700 or so pages couldn’t even figure out that energy storage needs to be measured in watt-hours rather than watts. To an endeavor that cries out for hard-headed engineering expertise, Ms. Harris brings a head full of air. Here are a few scattered excerpts that give the flavor of her presentation:
“We are leading the nation. . . . We see industry responding in an extraordinary way. . . . There are near term challenges [no mention of what those might be]. . . . We’re looking at a massive build-out of the grid. . . . We need lots of wind and solar. . . . We have a 10-point plan to see these challenges through. . . .” Harris’s speech was sprinkled with lines intended to draw applause (“Who doesn’t love heat pumps?!”), so I took those opportunities to boo loudly. In a speech of about 25 minutes, Ms. Harris managed barely a couple of lines on the subject of the recent cancellations of all the off-shore wind projects. Her contribution was that “we have issued two RFIs [requests for information]” to potential bidders, and “we expect responses soon.”
That puts Ms. Harris way ahead of Gregory Lampman, the Director of Offshore Wind at NYSERDA. NYSERDA is the state agency that is in charge of the off-shore wind endeavor, and that issued the contracts that all just got canceled. Somehow, Lampman managed to get through an entire presentation (“We’re the leader. . . . We have a bias toward action. . . . long term sustainability . . . something we can be proud of”) without ever mentioning that his whole program just got canceled without any idea of what the next step will be. To his credit, although in a very softball manner, the moderator asked Mr. Lampman to address the subject of the cancellations. Lampman responded that even as the Konference was going on, his staff back at the office was hard at work on figuring something out. He also said that he had discussed the subject with his 6 year old son, who had responded, “Dad, you got this.”
For me, the high point of the Konference came during an afternoon panel, featuring a presentation from a guy named Luke Falk, identified as COO of something called Clean Path NY, which appears to be developing transmission lines to shuttle wind and solar generated power around the state. Falk started talking about how great it would be when everybody converted their homes to electric heat, because that would provide a use for the vast amounts of wind and solar electricity that would soon be forthcoming. At that point I lost it and started laughing uncontrollably. After his panel, Falk came up to me and accused me of being rude. I responded that I thought the whole point of a comedy routine was to get audience members to laugh.
From the evidence of this Konference, it it completely clear that the people running New York’s supposed energy transition do not have the slightest hint of competence. I suppose that’s for the better, because people who were actually competent could keep the charade going for a much longer time. With this crowd, the collapse will come sooner, although not nearly soon enough.