WSJ:"Why No One Wants to Pay for the Green Transition"

Just because you heard it at the Wall Street Journal does not make it wrong.

Now it is true that there is low-hanging fruit on the energy front, and a fair bit of that (like better home insulation) has not been pursue systematically enough. But arresting the freight train of rising energy use, including the difficulty of transitioning away from fossil fuels, the too frequent failure to consider the total energy (including infrastructure) and environmental costs of lower carbon, and the unwillingness to curb energy use (via pricing or bans) is pretty much impossible under our neoliberal system. We need more top down planning, not just on comparatively narrow issues like whether and how to get the grid and related charging stations in place to allow for greater EV use, but on bigger questions of city/residential design (would it be a big net energy savings to attempt reconfigurations, or would the building front-load too much in the way of CO2 costs?).

Uh Oh the cry about socialism will occur.

The Journal focuses on more immediate issues, using the green energy programs in the Biden Inflation Reduction Act as a point of departure. As author Greg Ip points out:

WSJ prose:

This year the fantasy ended. With electric vehicle demand falling short of expectations, manufacturers are dialing back production and buying back stockinstead. Offshore wind developers have canceled projects. The S&P Global Clean Energy Index has fallen 30% this year. Ford’s market cap is down to $42 billion….

But the economics of getting to net zero remain, fundamentally, dismal: Someone has to pay for it, and shareholders and consumers decided this year it wouldn’t be them….

The article then depicts a carbon tax or cap and trade as the most efficient way to shift investment and consumption away from fossil fuels, and how Europe has implemented some of these approaches, only to get Gillet Jaunes protests and other resistance.

the US isn’t prepared to require sacrifice. Again from the Journal:

U.S. leaders have rejected any federal tax or fee on carbon.

U.S. leaders have rejected any federal tax or fee on carbon. Biden’s solution is to not ask consumers to pay for the green transition……

Subsidies can play a vital role by giving green energy time to scale up and innovate until it is competitive with fossil fuels. But the IRA has been undermined by extraneous conditions such as made-in-America requirements, and by green tech inflation—a byproduct of the IRA itself, which helped fuel demand…

For years, the cost of wind and solar plummeted, but since 2021 they have risen……

Many developers can no longer economically supply power at the rates previously agreed to. Denmark’s Orsted, the world’s largest wind developer, took a $4 billion charge in early November for pulling out of two projects off New Jersey. The company today is worth 75% less than in early 2021.

ClearView Energy Partners estimates about 30% of state-contracted offshore wind capacity has been canceled, and another 25% may be rebid….

The financial appeal of EVs has similarly faded….For most drivers, the trade off still doesn’t work—even with subsidies

Think back to the 1970’s. "Heck yeah! Double diget inflation! Gasoline shortage! Huge gasoline prices! Low stock returns!

Yet during that time the WW2 generation created the EPA & created environmental laws and regulations that cleans the waterways & air & soil and improved the health of its populace. The national well being of the country benefited greatly.
Changing all this required trillions of dollars of investment and many years --costs which did not generate profits or immediate productivity gains.
The gains were not strictly financial, and so they weren’t measured. Since they weren’t measured, both the costs and gains were overlooked and then forgotten.
How much of the tremendous stock gains in the 1980’s and 1990’s were driven by those trillions spent in the 1970’s?
Could we do it again? Yes. Will we? I am doubtful now that Congress is firmly in the grip of corporations via lobbyist campaign contributions and likely illegal cash under the table.


That was during the 70s. In the 80s, official policy became the care and feeding of the “JCs”. Anything that cost the “JCs” anything, either financial in reduced profits, or inconvenience, as in the “JCs” actually needing to come in off the golf course and do something, became a “job killing burden”. As offered here before, the US grid, for example, will be dramatically improved, as soon as the government pays the for-profit utility companies, generously, to make the improvements.

Steve,awakened this morning by the beeping of the backup battery on the internet gateway

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Once someone has to say that it is wrong.

Just like “trust me” from a used car salesman.

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If the service life of a powerplant is 40 years, you need to invest in 2.5% of capacity every year to maintain service. When green energy is economical it will be chosen.

Yes, we will get there. But it will take a long time. If we want it sooner we need to invest the funds to achieve that.

NEWS FLASH: everyone wants change for the better, they just never want to pay for it to happen.


The status quo costs far more than the change for the better. No one makes a decent case for spending for the change for the better. The waste of the status quo going forward is ignored.