Oh, No! Bernie Sanders Has Completely Gone Mad – Will Take Over Power Grid
Sen. Bernie Sanders, I-Vermont, does not lack for plans to remake American society in the “democratic socialist” image. From the Green New Deal to Medicare for All, the United States would be a decidedly different place than the one people have grown up in.
Politico is reporting that Bernie would also like to seize control of the electric power grid to transition the production of electricity from primarily fossil fuels to renewable energy, wind and solar. He expects this transition to be completed by 2030.
He would accomplish this task not so much by exerting direct federal control over the existing power grid, but by building a government power system that uses wind and solar, thus shrinking the current patchwork of private and municipal-owned power generators into insignificance and, in due course, nonexistence.
“A Sanders administration would pour funding into the four existing “power marketing administrations” that are overseen by the Energy Department, as well as the Tennessee Valley Authority and one newly created entity, to vastly expand their solar, wind and geothermal power production. Those organizations currently provide power from hydroelectric dams to 33 states, and would be able to sell the increased green energy to local utilities nationwide — creating a sort of “public option” that would compete with the coal, natural gas and nuclear plants owned by privately owned power generators.”
Analysts suggest that Bernie’s master plan would be a massive political and bureaucratic nightmare. It would be a difficult political sell for states such as Michigan and Pennsylvania. Labor unions and oil and gas companies would oppose the plan with every ounce of their strength.
The plan would involve Congress changing dozens of laws, many of which have been in existence since FDR’s New Deal. Even if Congress were to implement the plan as Bernie Sanders contemplates, the new, government-owned system would be very difficult to administer.
Two problems exist surrounding Bernie’s plan to, in effect, replace the current power grid with a nationalized system.
First, Berniepower would eschew two promising, carbon-free power technologies, namely nuclear and carbon capture. Nuclear power by definition does not emit co2 greenhouse gasses. Modern designs of nuclear power plants are far safer than the one the suffered an accident at Three Mile Island 40 years ago.
Carbon capture is a technology that, instead of emitting co2 into the atmosphere, sequesters the greenhouse gas for either storage oi for sale to industrial users. A pilot plant now in operation in La Porte, Texas uses co2 to turn the generators’ turbines after burning natural gas. Similar technology is under development using gasified coal. Carbon capture would eliminate co2 emissions without destroying the fossil fuel industry.
Bernie Sanders has been airily dismissive of technologies such as nuclear and carbon capture. Politico quotes him as being against, “false solutions like nuclear, geoengineering, carbon capture and sequestration, or trash incinerators.”
The second problem with Berniepower is that the existing infrastructure is likely not up to the task of transitioning from fossil fuel to renewable energy so rapidly.
“Critics contend that the existing federal utilities may not be up to the task. Today, the Tennessee Valley Authority still generates about half its power from coal and is in the top-ten of carbon-emitting U.S. utilities. The four western power marketing administrations get most of their energy from hydropower dams, but many are also skeptical they are ready to undertake a massive renewable energy build-out.”
Some critics who agree with the goals of the Green New Deal suggest that instead of a federal power grid that the government imposes green energy standards on the existing private utilities. They would buy green energy from private providers, with the federal government only building more technologically risky renewable projects.
However, such a plan would run counter to Bernie Sanders’ ideology. For him “democratic socialist” is not just a marketing label, but something with meaning. The Green New Deal, for him, is not just a means to eliminate greenhouse gasses, but to exert federal control over as much of the economy as possible.
The very aspects of allowing the private sector to achieve a carbon-free future with flexibility under federal guidelines are abhorrent to Sanders. That system smacks too much of allowing capitalism to persist. Bernie’s goal is to seize the means of power production. The elimination of greenhouse gasses would just be a side effect.