Cleveland Plain Dealer Conflates Clean with Renewable
John Funk of the Plain Dealer recently authored a story that discusses energy and job creation. The story focuses around Department of Energy Secretary Steven Chu calling for increased renewable energy production but also agreeing with chief executive officer of Cleveland Medical Devices that the government should target more research and development funds toward small businesses. The majority of the article, however, jumbles the phrases renewable energy standard and clean energy standard.
Funk writes that Secretary Chu, “made it clear that the White House has another idea for creating jobs: requiring power companies to use clean energy will create jobs. President Obama wants the nation’s utilities by 2035 to generate 80 percent of their power with such advanced technologies. About 40 percent of the nation’s electricity is now generated by such cleaner methods.
In the two-hour work session at the Cleveland State arena with small manufacturers, the scientist secretary several times returned to the administration’s proposed clean energy standard as a way to generate jobs as well as electricity. “He made it clear that he thinks a national renewable portfolio standard should happen,” said Ronn Richard, head of the Cleveland Foundation, and a strong proponent of building wind turbines in Lake Erie.”
Leaving aside the fact that a clean energy standard will destroy many more jobs than it creates, the article never defines what clean energy is. Funk mentions that we generate 40 percent of our electricity from cleaner methods but if the definition of clean energy is carbon-free, that percentage is closer to 30 percent. If you include natural gas, which is not carbon free but could be included in President Obama’s target, you get closer to 55 percent. Ronn Richard’s comment about a national renewable portfolio standard is much different. It excludes natural gas and carbon-free nuclear energy and only includes hydroelectric, wind and solar. Renewable sources only provide 11 percent of our nation’s electricity. The distinction between a clean energy standard and a renewable energy standard is an important one to make because it will determine what the government picks as winners and losers in our electricity market.