Investor's Business Daily 9/11/13: It seems that Great Britain is struggling to keep the lights on. This shouldn't happen in a developed nation, but it's where the environmental movement is taking us.
In late August, National Geographic reported that Ofgem, Britain's energy industry regulator, has "warned of an impending 'near-crisis' of energy supply, calling the situation 'horrendous' and likening it to being on a roller coaster headed 'downhill — fast.'"
Apparently Deputy Prime Minister Nick Clegg has even said he was working to "keep the lights on" while Ofgem's capacity assessment says "risks to electricity security of supply over the next six winters have increased since our last report in October 2012."
National Geographic says "the main reason for the possible crunch" is "closing a number of aging coal-fired plants — as well as some oil and nuclear ones — to meet European Union environmental laws."
What Britain will be left with after its surrender to the "European Union environmental laws" is a reserve electric power capacity of between 2% and 5% — roughly half of what it is now.
It will lose 20% of its power plants over the next decade, and will have no coal-powered facilities, which provided 39% of the country's electricity just last year.
From there, National Geographic's story gets even uglier. Customers will be paying higher prices, though some will be able to keep their costs down by opting for cheaper "interruptible contracts," meaning their power can be cut off when it's deemed necessary.
It's a poor trade-off that might be acceptable in the third world, but not in Western Europe.
Oddly, officials and providers are betting that a weak economy will keep demand low and blackouts from being widespread. Well, one way to ensure a weak economy is to fabricate high energy costs and spotty service.
The environmental movement is remarkably backward. It prefers to push back man's achievements in return for some vague environmental gain. Today's environmentalists are arguably anti-energy. As others have said, they see energy as a problem, not a solution.
Sure, they like taxpayer-funded energy. But it is too expensive for the market, too undeveloped, too unreliable for practical use, and is harder to produce than the energy we easily get from fossil fuels. We can't run a modern and growing economy on costly experimental energy.
As the loss of power in Britain illustrates, the roads of environmentalism lead to a more primitive existence and lower standard of living. It's not about a cleaner world but a reversal of the gains made by capitalism.