The Emperor's New Clothes Are Electric

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The Rush to Electrify Everything.

Ludwig Wittgenstein wrote that “Logic must look after itself.”

In many ways the mad rush to electrify everything, without consideration for the innumerable ways that fossil fuels provide a better quality of life for humankind, seems borrowed from a fantastical tale that begins with the acceptance of delusion over reality. And, in fact, people have a tendency to believe that false information is correct when it’s repeated often enough.

A Voice of Reason. 

The 9th Circuit Court of Appeals may be a voice of reason by ruling that federal law limits a state’s authority to force energy choices on consumers. This is in violation of the Energy Policy and Conservation Act, signed into law in 1975. It now seems likely that similar legal arguments will be brought forward and adjudicated in both the 1st Circuit (Maine, Massachusetts, New Hampshire, Puerto Rico, and Rhode Island) and 2nd Circuit (Connecticut, New York, and Vermont) Court of Appeals.

The federal law came on the heels of the Oil Embargo in 1973. But aren’t concerns about national energy security still valid? After all, raw materials account for roughly 70 percent of the cost of “green energy” technologies, most of which are imported. We don’t need for any foreign country (or coalition of countries) to hold the U.S. hostage over a vulnerability that could soon loom large over America: dependence on rare earth minerals.

Make More or Use Less.

So, why should consumers embrace electricity as their sole energy choice?

On average, it’s not cleaner, more versatile, nor more reliable. And won’t most electricity providers need to do everything possible (higher rates, demand-response programs, interruptible rate incentives, and rolling black-outs) to “encourage” consumers to use less electricity so that they can keep up with exponential growth and highly variable demand?

What else can they do? The public has been sold an imperative that most electricity providers can’t deliver on. Which makes it easy to imagine future bumper stickers:

  1. Do Your Part to Conserve Electricity
  2. Energy Breaks = Energy Equity

The Dangers of an Unexamined Agenda.

If there’s a lesson that can be applied today from the Danish folktale, perhaps it’s that our leaders should not blindly accept or promulgate unexamined policies regarding electrification goals.

The truth is that 80 percent of the world’s energy requirements are satisfied by hydrocarbons.
Fair-minded legislators should do more to incentivize fuels that have a lower carbon content, like propane

Weekly Inventory Numbers

A large build in the Gulf Coast was mostly offset by draws in the East Coast and out West.

Overall, U.S. propane inventories showed a small build of .67 mmbbls. for the week ending August 11, 2023, which was well below industry expectations. This brings national inventory levels to 90.62 mmbbls., about 33 percent above last year and 21 percent above the 5-year average.

PADD 2 (Midwest/Conway) inventories had a minimal build of .23 mmbbls. They currently stand at 23.89 mmbbls., about 15 percent higher than ‚Äčlast year.

PADD 3 (Gulf Coast/Belvieu) inventories had a significant build of 1.95 mmbbls. They currently stand at 54.84 mmbbls., roughly 53 percent ahead of last year.

The Skinny

Instead of rushing to electrify everything, the most practical approach towards lowering greenhouse gas emissions is to promote lower carbon fuels like propane versus fuels with a higher carbon content, and more renewable fuels like renewable propane with a Carbon Intensity (CI) score as low as 20.5.

For more renewable propane to happen, we need greater incentives to offset the higher costs associated with making renewable diesel and sustainable aviation fuel since renewable propane is a byproduct (about 6 percent) of that process technology. In the meantime, we can continue to raise public awareness about the benefits of clean and abundant regular propane (CI score of 80) versus gasoline (101), diesel (100), or electricity (139).

It seems like people are starting to get it -- that perhaps the story about how wonderful life will be without fossil fuels is more fiction than fact. Like the boy in “The Emperor’s New Clothes,” hopefully more people will speak up, in appreciation for how necessary a clean and versatile fuel like propane is so that billions of people, all over the world, can have a better quality of life.

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