The Power Hungry Podcast

Isaac Orr: Policy Fellow at the Center of the American Experiment

January 23, 2024 Robert Bryce & Isaac Orr Season 1 Episode 216
The Power Hungry Podcast
Isaac Orr: Policy Fellow at the Center of the American Experiment
Show Notes Transcript

Isaac Orr researches and writes about environmental issues, mining, and energy for the Center of the American Experiment, a Minnesota-based think tank. In his fourth appearance on the podcast (his last was on March 7, 2023), Orr talks about the staggering cost of decarbonization mandates, why the EPA’s proposed greenhouse gas rule could result in blackouts across middle America, the impact of higher interest rates are having on renewable-energy projects, and the widening divide between urban and rural voters. (Recorded on December 4, 2023.) 

0:06 - Robert Bryce 

Hi, everyone. Welcome to the Power Hungry podcast. I'm Robert. On this podcast, we talk about energy, power, innovation, and politics. And I'm pleased to welcome back for the fourth time, my friend Isaac Orr. He is a policy fellow at the Center of the American Experiment. Isaac, welcome back to the Power Hungry podcast.

 

0:22 - Isaac Orr 

Hey, Robert, thanks for having me. Always a great time to be here.

 

0:26 - Robert Bryce 

Well, you've been on the podcast before, so you know the drill. Guests introduce themselves. So I've given your title, but please tell us who you are.

 

0:35 - Isaac Orr 

Yeah, I'm Isaac Orr. I work at Center of the American Experiment. It's a Minnesota based think tank. My colleague Mitch Rowling and I have done basically we've developed a model that allows us to calculate the cost of different energy policies, right. So whether that's an EPA regulation or a state regulation, or state law, right, rather, we're able to say, okay, well, if you're going to rely on this much wind, solar or battery storage, or conversely, if you do the smart thing and build nuclear instead, this is what it would cost to decarbonize your system.

 

1:05 - Isaac Orr 

So we've had a lot of clients this year. We've been working a lot with the North Dakota Transmission Authority, but we also work with industry stakeholders, other think tanks. So we've basically become a modeling firm for the center, right? And it's been a lot of fun over the last year.

 

1:23 - Robert Bryce 

Well, so there's a lot to talk about here. And let me start there, though, because you now characterize what you're doing as a modeling firm within the Center of the American Experiment. And you and I worked together a little bit. We were on the same podium a couple of years ago for a project that I did for the Center on the Resistance to Wind and Solar across the US and documenting that. And was one of the reasons why I started publishing the Renewable Rejection Database was because of the Center of the American Experiment.

 

1:52 - Robert Bryce 

But let me talk about that because we hear about models and you know we see models when it comes to climate change and a lot of discussions about what will all ask the question what makes a good model, how do you how do you know your model is reliable.

 

2:05 - Isaac Orr 

Well, all models are wrong. Some models are useful, right? And I... Well,

 

2:10 - Robert Bryce 

Garbage in, garbage out?

 

2:12 - Isaac Orr 

That's the thing. That's the thing, Robert. There's a lot of models out there that are promoting wind and solar that are lots of garbage in, so you get lots of garbage out, right? And I love how you call them spreadsheet jockeys. Mitch and I joke about that. Like, how's the jockey end going today, Mitch? He's like, oh, it's pretty good. But what we try to do is we try to say, this is the system that we have today. And then this is what's going to happen if we make this change, this change or this change.

 

2:40 - Isaac Orr 

So one of the things that we inevitably see whenever we hear claims that wind and solar will bring down costs or they're somehow the lowest cost of energy or the most affordable portfolio, it's always a bait and switch baseline. So it's a BS baseline analysis. So it's like when the federal government says that they're cutting spending. Well, they never actually cut spending. They just don't spend as much as they said they were going to. So let's say Congress says, we're going to spend two billion dollar or two trillion and the conservatives say, no, we're only going to spend 1.5.

 

3:14 - Isaac Orr 

And then everyone cries that they've cut spending by 500 billion, right? When really nothing got cut, it all got added. So the utilities play that same game, the EPA plays that same game. You know, states play that same game whenever they do their modeling. So ultimately what we want to do is we want to establish this is where we are today. We use FERC Form 1 data. So we go through, we see what each power plant in a system costs to generate electricity, and you can use the Form 1 data for that.

 

3:43 - Isaac Orr 

And we say, this is the real baseline. We're not going to use some bait and switch tactic where we artificially make our system look better. So I think that really distinguishes us from a lot of these other models that are overly optimistic about wind and solar. We also use realistic or the most recent capital costs that have been announced from the Energy Information Administration. A lot of times these wind and solar are the cheapest forms of energy studies assume that the 80% cost decline that occurred from 2009 until today for solar, for example, will continue to be another 80% cost decline in the future when realistically we're seeing capital costs for solar and wind increase due to inflation, And you know the other thing is when it's all are very capital intensive and you have to spend that money up front right, it's not a pay as you go system with fuel.

 

4:37 - Isaac Orr 

So as interest rates increase you're actually baking in higher costs if you are going to be building wind and solar so a lot of those trends are reversing. Mitch and I did a piece recently where we said.

 

4:49 - Robert Bryce 

Trends, I'm sorry to interrupt, but the In the cost reductions, you're talking about specifically here.

 

4:51 - Isaac Orr 

Yeah.

 

4:54 - Robert Bryce 

That those are reversing and that is largely a function of the higher interest rates.

 

4:59 - Isaac Orr 

That and just material costs, right, Robert? Steel, concrete, I mean, I think 70% of a wind turbine is the concrete base, right? So when you have an increase in concrete and the other main component is steel, the price goes up. So yeah, we don't need to get into all the nuts and bolts of the modeling, but if anybody has questions, comments, or scathing rebuttal for the way that we do it, check out the appendices, send us an email, and we'll be happy to chat with any of your listeners about that.

 

5:28 - Isaac Orr 

You.

 

5:28 - Robert Bryce 

So have you had much in terms of, I mean, honest and real serious debate? I want to get into just preface this because you've done a calculation, some calculations on what the EPA's proposed greenhouse gas rule could mean in terms of cost for MISO, the Mid-Continent Independent System Operator. And Minnesota is in MISO, right? And I think actually part of Texas is in MISO, if I'm not mistaken. I know part with a very small piece in SPP, I think a very small piece in MISO. So I want to talk about that, what you calculated there, as well as what the costs, potential costs are in Colorado.

 

6:05 - Robert Bryce 

But talk about that further, what you were discussing about those, the issue of the model itself that you created. Have you had much honest, you know, a real serious debate with people on the other side, or what I'd say the left or the people pushing renewables saying, oh, no, your model's wrong? Have you had any serious engagement on that?

 

6:25 - Isaac Orr 

Yeah, we had a good back and forth with Jesse Jenkins when we released our 100% carbon-free Minnesota report. He didn't like some of our assumptions. I don't remember what they were now. He thought that we were extrapolating Minnesota's hourly wind generation to the entire MISO footprint, when realistically, that's not what we were doing. We were taking the entire MISO footprint and saying, this is how effective Minnesota's wind turbines are gonna be, which is overly generous to Minnesota because the wind turbines blow better in North Dakota and South Dakota and Iowa.

 

6:59 - Isaac Orr 

And that's why you're seeing a lot of the wind that is serving Minnesota markets is being built in the Dakotas. So we had some back and forth like that, but I felt like we were able to defend it. Really well so most people don't mess with us because they know we're going to come with receipts so but you know whenever people do it always makes the product better so we're always open to that kind of critique because you know iron sharpens iron in that respect.

 

7:27 - Robert Bryce 

So how long, I know you've been at this for a while in terms of, I would guess, I mean, how would I typify that? I'd say you and Mitch together have created a very, trying to create an open and transparent model that shows what the potential impacts of different energy policies are. Is there anyone else doing this in the same way that you are?

 

7:48 - Isaac Orr 

There's a lot of groups on the left, right? I mean, you can basically there's you can more than you can shake a stick at on the right, it's not really, you know, there's a few consulting firms like energy, Ventures Analysis and Nira Economic Consulting. Those are the two that come to mind. But other than that, like in the nonprofit space, not really, Robert. I think that we're kind of in our own lane on that, which is really cool because we have it all to ourselves and that allows us to do a lot of different projects all over the country.

 

8:19 - Isaac Orr 

But you know, on the left, you've got Rocky Mountain Institute. I don't know, I forget, Energy Innovation. Like there's.

 

8:27 - Isaac Orr 

Way too many, yeah.

 

8:28 - Isaac Orr 

So like, so yeah.

 

8:31 - Robert Bryce 

But I would typify those outfits, and I'm speaking broadly, those are advocacy groups, right? They're nonprofits, right? But they are advocating for these claims, oh, no, this is going to be cheaper. I mean, what is Amory Levin's line? No, renewables aren't just cheaper there. This is a lunch you get paid. It's not just a free lunch. It's a lunch you get paid to eat, right? That's one of his lines, right? That this is going to be, and it's going to make you thinner, right? This is part of the promise.

 

8:58 - Robert Bryce 

So how many you've done some modeling on the EPA rules on potential impact on my so you've done Colorado, what other states have you done these the modeling on?

 

9:09 - Isaac Orr 

Yeah, so we've done 11 total. So we've done Arizona, West Virginia, Washington, Colorado, Minnesota, Wisconsin, Michigan, North Carolina, Virginia, and I'm missing two, but your listeners will hopefully forgive me for that.

 

9:26 - Robert Bryce 

So Michigan, let's talk about that. I don't know if you have the numbers at hand, but the governor there just implemented a, and the legislature just passed a clean electricity or zero carbon electricity mandate by, I think it was 2045. They also passed a provision that allows the state to Bigfoot local communities that will force, that will give legislators in Lansing the ability to override local zoning when it comes to wind and solar projects. Do you have those numbers in hand?

 

9:54 - Robert Bryce 

Because I've been in Minnesota, I've been in Michigan. In fact, I was in Ida Township in April and met with local people fighting a solar project. I'm putting you on the spot here. But do you have those numbers what Michigan, the Michigan cost would be?

 

10:08 - Isaac Orr 

Yeah, if you vamp for a minute longer, I can get those because we did the modeling for the Mackinac.

 

10:13 - Isaac Orr 

Center for Public Policy. So anyone who's interested in, you know, reading more about that can go to Mackinac Center website or Jason Hayes has a sub stack. He's their energy policy researcher there and his is called forest fuels and freedom. So I'm just strolling through his sub stack at the moment. But yeah, it's hundreds of billions of dollars, Robert.

 

10:34 - Robert Bryce 

So let me well then since I will vamp I can vamp you know me. My guest is my friend Isaac Orr. He's a policy fellow at the center of the American experiment in Wyzata, Minnesota, if I'm remembering correctly. No, Golden something. What's the name of the town? What is it?

 

10:51 - Isaac Orr 

It's Golden Valley, but it's.

 

10:53 - Robert Bryce 

Minnesota, but it's really Minneapolis. We'll just say yes. Yeah, he's on Twitter at the fracking guy,

 

10:59 - Robert Bryce 

Or you can find out more about him at American experiment.org. So you've done now 11 states, you've done the EPA model. And I want to come back to the EPA discussion because that is one of the the the rule, the proposed rule, which came out earlier this year. Believe it was in May, they have since extended the comment period on that, but it is a narrowly focused extension of the comments. So it appears that the EPA is going to go forward with this effort to try and cut CO2 emissions from the utility sector by something like 90%.

 

11:34 - Robert Bryce 

It's a drastic move, drastic proposal that's coming not from Congress, but from the administrative state again. So did you find the Michigan numbers?

 

11:45 - Isaac Orr 

I didn't, but let's move on to the EPA, right?

 

11:48 - Isaac Orr 

I think that's the more interesting thing.

 

11:50 - Robert Bryce 

No problem. So you recently did, I think it was in August, you and Mitch released a report, and one of the, I'll cut down to the punchline here, you said that the cost will be two hundred and forty six billion. This is from the EPA's proposed greenhouse gas rule, resulting in additional costs for ratepayers in MISO of $246 billion. Which is 7.7 billion in annual compliance costs for the MISO region alone. And that is through 7.7 billion through 2045 or 2040. Is that right? Yeah, that's right.

 

12:24 - Robert Bryce 

Yeah. So these are massive costs over a massive area, the MISO district or MISO segment of the US grid is enormous. So how did you get to those 246 billion? What are the key? What are the biggest components of that in terms of extra cost?

 

12:23 - Isaac Orr 

Yes. Yeah, I mean, I think I want to just hit on like the most important thing that we did for modeling the EPA's proposed carbon rule is look at the reliability of the model or of the of the proposal, right? EPA did not do this. So EPA said, okay, well, we have this assumption that the post IRA base case is going to be responsible for 99% of the emissions reductions and changes on the grid. So they just think all the subsidies in the IRA are going to lead to this fundamental transformation of the electric grid.

 

13:12 - Isaac Orr 

And only the last 1% of emissions reductions will be due to the EPA carbon rules, right? So 99% IRA one easy peasy little bit for the carbon rules. And that's why they were able to artificially suppress the publicized cost of those regulations, right? So it was a bait and switch baseline, Robert. So what we did is we said, okay, well, and the EPA said, well, we're not gonna look at the reliability of it, but we'll look at the resource adequacy of this little piece compared to our post IRA base case.

 

13:49 - Isaac Orr 

So.

 

13:49 - Robert Bryce 

May I interrupt for just a second because you hit on something here that I think is absolutely essential. And it's one that I keep coming back to in my own work. And also, on my own sub stack, I wrote about the issue of the the gas system in New York City almost failing. Well, what happened in the retrospect, no one's responsible for the reliability of the natural gas system. And the same is true with the US grid as a whole, there is no one entity that says, Oh, you've got to do this for reliability.

 

14:14 - Robert Bryce 

But This reliability part is the one that I think could very well come back to haunt us because there is no real focus on this issue of reliability of electricity around the country. And I think it's extremely dangerous. So EPA, their focus is on emissions reduction and not on the reliability of our most important energy network. Is that a fair way to say that? What's your, what's your, rephrase what you're saying?

 

14:42 - Isaac Orr 

That is 100% correct, Robert. And it gets worse, right?

 

14:47 - Robert Bryce 

Oh, good. Oh good.

 

14:49 - Isaac Orr 

But wait, there's more.

 

14:51 - Robert Bryce 

But wait, there's more. We're from the government. We're here to help.

 

14:55 - Isaac Orr 

That's right. That's right. Those are not terrifying words either, if you're in the administration. So, okay. So what happens in the EPA's regulatory impact analysis, right? That's the long document that they have to produce justifying their rules. So in that regulatory impact analysis, whenever EPA was closing down coal plants due to the carbon rule, they would build about the same amount in natural gas plants in order to maintain the resource adequacy of their their proposal, right?

 

15:28 - Isaac Orr 

So, okay, that's all well and good. Whenever you shut down a coal plant, you should have to build a gigawatt of gas, right? You shut down a gigawatt of coal, replace it with gas, that's sensible. But the problem is EPA never did a resource adequacy or reliability analysis on their base case, right? So what EPA effectively did was the regulatory equivalent of making sure that the top floor of a 100-story building was structurally sound without doing the same thing for the preceding 99 floors, right?

 

16:01 - Isaac Orr 

So top floor looks great. Other 99 floors, hope it's legit, is basically the way that we talk about this when we discuss these rules, right? So what Mitch and I did, and Mitch carried a lot of the water, so you should have him on the show sometime just to give the listeners a break from me. Um but um so we said,

 

16:20 - Robert Bryce 

Sure.

 

16:23 - Isaac Orr 

Okay, here's what the EPA thinks will be in the MISO system, right? So they go through and they say, each of the regions in MISO will have X megawatts of this, X megawatts of that, right? So we plotted all of that out and we said, okay, so EPA thinks that there's going to be a huge increase in the amount of installed capacity on the grid as a result of these rules. MISO would effectively go from about, you know, a few hundred gigawatts of installed capacity, 204 gigawatts of installed capacity as of 2021, right?

 

16:57 - Isaac Orr 

So that's, that's what's the steel in the ground to 457 gigawatts of installed capacity by 2055. But almost all of that is going to be wind, solar and battery storage, and they're going to be retiring the coal, and they assume the nuclear plants close down too. EPA makes some very crazy assumptions of this. All of these things are all of the the graphs that I'm going to be talking about are available on American experiment dot org and uh mitch and I started a sub stack. It's Energy Bad Boys.

 

17:31 - Isaac Orr 

Check that out. There's an article that we wrote for Thinking Minnesota, which is the magazine that we produce at Center of the American Experiment called Enjoy the Blackouts, Jack. So, you know, because that's what it is. So we said, okay, there's all this,

 

17:46 - Robert Bryce 

But just to repeat here. So what you just the numbers you just ran through, again, what if, when I read your summary of the MISO report, and also what you're talking about in Colorado, which we'll get to in just a minute. The key here in terms of the cost, as I see it, is what you're, what you're reading, what I'm reading back to you, is that the costs increased dramatically because of the amount of overbuilding on the system that has to occur. So you're saying that in MISO, the capacity would more than double to meet the demand, to meet this model or these claims that the EPA is making.

 

18:17 - Robert Bryce 

You talked about the same thing in Colorado, that this is the fundamental, if I'm reading back correctly, with all these renewable plans, these all have renewable heavy plans, it's all about a massive, massive construction project that will result in huge overbuilding of the grid in order to compensate for the unreliability or the weather dependence of wind and solar. Is that fair?

 

18:38 - Isaac Orr 

That's exactly what we did in Colorado. It's a little bit more nuanced for the EPA rules, and I'll get into that. What we did is we said, this is the grid that EPA thinks will exist in 2028, 2030, to 35, 40, and so on. We said, what if we have the same wind and solar capacity factors in the future that we had in twenty nineteen twenty twenty twenty one and twenty two right what we do is we go through the MISO data and you can find the hourly fluctuation in wind and solar. And we divide that by the amount of installed capacity on the system.

 

19:12 - Isaac Orr 

And that gives you the productivity of wind and solar during those times. So we ran We took the MISO grid that EPA thinks will exist in the future, and we said, can this work? Can this provide electricity eighty seven d sixty right based on past weather conditions? If you're going to just say the phrase weather as a proxy for wind and solar and the electricity demand that we experienced during those years. We did the most basic like hindcast your model to make sure that you don't royally screw up the future and you get devastating blackouts.

 

19:50 - Isaac Orr 

So-.

 

19:51 - Robert Bryce 

And just to be clear for the people that are listening, 8760, that's the number of hours in a year. So you looked at the number of hours of 24 hours times three hundred sixty five eight thousand seven hundred sixty so you hind used your model to hindcast what the impact of these rules would be and what did you find?

 

20:08 - Isaac Orr 

Blackouts, big old blackouts all along the mid-continent independent systems operator. So I forget what year it was, historical comparison year, right? So when we go 2019 weather, 2020, 21 or 22, but at one point we had 26 gigawatts of blackout, Robert, which is about 20% of the entire demand in MISO. So for reference, 26 gigawatts would be the peak demand for both Minnesota and Wisconsin combined. So just imagine two fairly decent sized Midwestern states. I know people on the, the elitists on the coast don't think that we matter, but that's a big deal.

 

20:50 - Isaac Orr 

And these blackouts inevitably happen in winter. Because the amount of solar that you have on the grid is just basically worthless during the winter months especially in the northern regions where you know if. If it doesn't snow before the polar vortex rolls through, which it doesn't always, but sometimes it does, then you have short days where you don't have a lot of coincident demand. And this is only going to get worse as we are forced to give up our gas furnaces and go to heat pumps or electric resistance heat, right?

 

21:26 - Isaac Orr 

So when you look at the, let's just look at winter storm Elliott, right? Like we had blackouts along the Southeast because there's a high use of electric heat for home heating, right? It just doesn't pay to run the gas infrastructure to the houses as much. So during the periods when you need the power the most, the solar is just mathematically, physically incapable of helping you meet that demand. So as we move forward, Mitch and I are a lot more concerned about future winter blackouts than we are in the summer, right?

 

21:56 - Isaac Orr 

Plus the consequences are worse.

 

21:58 - Robert Bryce 

Well, and that's a key point, because we're seeing the same in Texas, where Texas is becoming a winter peaking grid instead of a summer peaking grid, because of the demand for electric heat. So if I'm going to step back for a second, Isaac, and just give you my quick feedback on it. So at the same time that the, you mentioned Rocky Mountain Institute, but along with Natural Resources Defense Council, Rewiring America, Sierra Club, the rest of these groups that are getting hundreds of millions of dollars from some of the richest people in the world, to push the electrify everything effort that is going to add more peak winter demand.

 

22:35 - Robert Bryce 

At the same time, the EPA is trying to implement rules that will make the grid even less available or less reliable during those critical points. Am I missing something?

 

22:46 - Isaac Orr 

We're burning the reliability candle at both ends, Robert.

 

22:50 - Robert Bryce 

I like the way you put that. That's good. So explain. What. At. Bo,

 

22:52 - Isaac Orr 

Jot. That. Down. Can. That future.

 

22:53 - Robert Bryce 

Both, I'm writing it, I am,

 

22:55 - Isaac Orr 

Yeah,

 

22:55 - Robert Bryce 

I'm not writing and I will soon.

 

22:57 - Robert Bryce 

I like that image explain what you mean by. Right?

 

23:00 - Isaac Orr 

So we're simultaneously reducing the amount of dispatchable, reliable capacity on the grid through EPA regulations while simultaneously demanding more from a system that is being starved of dispatchable capacity. Like it's not rocket science. Like supply must always meet demand with electricity. Otherwise you have rolling blackouts and demand response is not a real solution. Demand response is the opposite of Motel 6. We turn the lights off on you. Write that one down.

 

23:31 - Robert Bryce 

But I like that. I think that that's a key phrase as well, the starved of dispatchable capacity, because this is something too that I think is one of the reasons I wanted to have you back on. FERC and NERC and the RTOs have been repeatedly warning about this. They've been saying over and over and over, we're losing too much dispatchable capacity, too much thermal generation, and relying too much on intermittent weather dependent sources, and that the grid NERC has put this in their same report, I think, every year for the last three or four years.

 

23:59 - Robert Bryce 

The grid is being characterized by one that is more vulnerable to extreme temperatures and wind and solar droughts. And my readback would be, wait a minute, if we're facing more extreme weather because of climate change, why would we make the grid more dependent on the weather? But it makes no sense to me at all. But start for dispatchable capacity. So do you have some estimates on how much capacity, thermal capacity in MISO might be retired?

 

24:25 - Isaac Orr 

Yeah, we've been doing some work for the North Dakota Transmission Authority on the amount of on the mats rules. So that would affect the lignite power plants. And, you know, we're looking at. Mercury and air toxics.

 

24:37 - Robert Bryce 

Sorry, mats, forgive me, This is again, a federal rule on on air pollution, right? Okay.

 

24:45 - Isaac Orr 

Yes, essentially, I mean, the Biden administration is pulling out all the stops to ladle as many regulations on coal plants as possible and hoping that if the if one rule is not, you know, going to be upheld, that something else will get them right. It's basically the Gina McCarthy, Obama era. Tactic of, we'll throw so much stuff at them, plant owners will just decide it's not worth investing in this stuff, and we're just going to starve the market from capital. And rather than retrofit, they're going to retire.

 

25:20 - Robert Bryce 

And in doing so, they create political uncertainty, right?

 

25:23 - Isaac Orr 

Yes, that's the point.

 

25:24 - Robert Bryce 

Which is a real problem for anyone trying to deploy capital. And if you recall, then just in the last few days in Dubai, John Kerry said that the US is pledging to close all of its coal plants. I mean, this is a dramatic move, particularly when just a few days ago, when I wrote about this on my sub stack, that PJM warned specifically about the closure of a coal plant in Maryland, saying it was going to cause significant reliability problems if that one coal plant closed. Imagine if we close all of them.

 

25:53 - Robert Bryce 

I mean, what impact would that have? I think it could be very serious, if I'm not mistaken.

 

26:00 - Isaac Orr 

Yeah. 100% Robert. So we've got about 55 gigawatts of coal on the MISO system and just the announced retirements from the EIA database and integrated resource plans is going to bring that down to the high thirties, right? So at a time when my, so only has a capacity surplus. And I put scare quotes around that. Cause I don't necessarily know if I believe that capacity surplus of 1,500 megawatts. And they're projecting that they could have 9.6 gigawatts of capacity shortfalls, uh, by the 28, 29 planning year.

 

26:37 - Isaac Orr 

We're in a reliability hole and we need to stop digging. That means you keep every single thermal unit that you have on your system. I don't care if it's coal, I don't care if it's nuclear, but letting that shut down is malpractice for any grid manager, in my opinion. That's just the way that we're going, but EPA wants to obviously shut all that stuff down because they know they can't get anything through Congress. As Obama said, there's more than one way to skin a cat. It's essentially rule by regulator, or if you want to be inflammatory about it, it's rule by swamp.

 

27:12 - Isaac Orr 

Right? The administrative state is trying to enact what Congress will not do. And that inaction on Congress is actually a great thing because what EPA is trying to do doesn't work with the physics of the way the grid works. And just to get back to this EPA regulation, and I want to clarify what the cost is, right? So when Mitch and I were looking at this rule, we wanted to isolate the true cost of the regulation for the MISO system. So we said, how much additional wind, solar, and battery storage would you need to build on this MISO grid of the future that EPA has in order to not have these blackouts?

 

27:48 - Isaac Orr 

Because having a grid where 20% of your demand cannot be met is not a rational basis for rulemaking, right? So the $246 billion is only the extra capacity that we would need in order to prevent those blackouts is not the total cost from today right so that's a little bit of a departure from the way that we normally model things we normally say this is the great we have and this is what it would cost to build you know. To double the size of the grid. So, but in this instance, we really wanted to narrowly focus it on the impact of the EPA's regulation.

 

28:23 - Isaac Orr 

Like if you're gonna if you're going to prevent blackouts and meet EPA's CO2 reduction targets, this is the additional cost that would be there. And that's how we were able to show that the cost of this rule in MISO alone would exceed the expected benefits for the entire country.

 

28:39 - Robert Bryce 

Well, and that's what that was another good point that you made that you said that that that 246 billion exceeds the EPA's total model benefits of 5.9 billion annually for the entire nation. So what is that six into 246? What is that factor of 60, something like that. So the cost of the cost of the regulation in MISO alone is 60x. What the potential benefits are in a nationwide and I just looked it up so I, you know, I want to make sure people understand what my so is. So, the mid content independent system operator.

 

29:13 - Robert Bryce 

It manages the flow I'm reading from their website of high voltage electricity across 15 states and the Canadian province of Manitoba. 45 million people depend on my so so we'll call it 50 million Well, this is only one sixth of the country of the country here. So I'm saying only in quotes, but $250 billion for a sixth of the country, or you know, this is the cost here potentially nationwide, then If you extrapolate that out, we're costing, you know, a couple, a trillion, a trillion and a half.

 

29:45 - Robert Bryce 

I mean, how long is a piece of string? We don't know. Right. But all of this is contingent again on a massive build out of stuff when it's hard to build anything at scale in the United States. And that's the part where the physical reality of the world seems to be colliding just at full speed with all of these spreadsheet jockeys. They're saying, oh, we'll just do this. And Jesse Jenkins is one of the spreadsheet jockeys. Oh, we'll just build all this stuff, and we'll add all of this high-voltage transmission.

 

30:13 - Robert Bryce 

We'll go slowly and tell me how you're going to do all this, because I'm from Oklahoma. I'm a little stupid. How you know, How do but that seems to be the case in all of this, is this collision between the theory and the spreadsheet and the reality of how the grid works. You talked about this earlier. Why is there such a big gap? Why is there such a big gap between the physical world and what is all this policy stuff that's being generated both by academics, by NGOs, and by the government?

 

30:42 - Isaac Orr 

What's the old Reagan quote? Conservatives believe it when they see it, and liberals see it when they believe it. But I think that's it. This is the world that they want to exist. So they're willing to hand wave away a whole litany of very real consequences, right? So they pretend that like, oh, well, you know, the the cost will out or sorry, the benefits will outweigh the costs in the long run when realistically, like even by their own social cost of carbon metrics, like doesn't make sense to do this.

 

31:14 - Isaac Orr 

They have to keep goose in those numbers. Robert had a post about that recently on his sub stack, right? So the administrative state will always find a way to manipulate their, you know, cost benefit analysis in order to do what they want to do. And that's what, you know, people like Jesse Jenkins are paid the big bucks to figure out. So, but it's all BS, right? So you have kind of this, I don't want to call them elite because I don't feel like they're elite. They just happen to have a lot of money and like, institutional backing and stuff like that.

 

31:46 - Isaac Orr 

So they dictate to us, us yokels, us country folk, Robert, how we're going to live our lives. But really, like, if they ever been out to where, you know, you've been and touched grass, they'd realize, well, maybe what we're proposing isn't very realistic.

 

32:03 - Robert Bryce 

Well isn't that, it's something I was in Kearney Nebraska recently and I spoke to the Nebraska Rural Electric Association that was on the same day that the COP meeting started in Dubai and I thought that morning I was talking to a guy who manages a power public power district in northeastern Nebraska and I thought, I'm probably the furthest away from that place. I mean, the people that are there, that are in Nebraska, culturally and politically, they're as far away as they could possibly be from the climateers, the climate people in Dubai.

 

32:33 - Robert Bryce 

But this is one of the key divides, isn't it, between the urban and the rural? You're a rural guy, right? You grew up on a farm in Wisconsin, on a dairy farm. How do you see it? Now, you live in the city now, but how do you see that divide? Is it getting worse? Is it, is it, how important is it?

 

32:51 - Isaac Orr 

So I have a theory, right? Once your family is three generations removed from using an outhouse, you don't really understand the way the world works anymore, right? So people think food comes from the store, they keep they think electricity comes from the outlet, and they don't really appreciate all the work that goes into, you know, manifesting the modernity that we all enjoy, right? So I think that it's rational, right? Not everybody checks their Because, you know, they can pay for it.

 

33:21 - Isaac Orr 

Right. So I'm not saying that it's like people are have some moral failing or anything like that. But if we continue to pursue the policies that have been laid out mostly by Democrats. They're going to be reacquainted with scarcity in a way that they are not anticipating, right? Because a lot of these people have been told is we're going to go green, it's going to be cheaper, it's going to be cleaner, it's going to be better. And I think Europe is starting to figure out, well, maybe these promises, I mean, they're big promises, right?

 

33:54 - Isaac Orr 

In order to sucker people into something, you got to you got to let them think that they're going to have it all and not have to give up very much. People are willing to give up a lot in order to get a lot. It's like everybody dreams about winning the lottery. It's that idea. I think they've been told, you will win the energy lottery if we go to wind and solar, and people are still hoping for that payoff. It's going to take.

 

34:20 - Robert Bryce 

But the counter indicator there, though, is that when the surveys are done, and Gallup has done these and others, that, in fact, when put to the voters, they're asked, well, how many dollars would you really be willing to spend for zero carbon, low carbon, something, something, right? And it's something like, you know, the numbers are incredibly low. What, 20% of people said they would be even willing to spend $1 or $2 a month. I mean, the number of people who are actually willing to pay money to support these kinds of ideas is very, very small.

 

34:49 - Robert Bryce 

And yeah, and it's heavily democratic as well. Remember the almost half of all the electric vehicles sold in America go into just 20 counties in the United States, and all of them are heavily democratic. And I will point out one of them is Travis County, where I live here in Austin. EVs are popular in Democratic counties. In Republican counties, you don't see them. You don't see them in rural Nebraska. You don't see them in rural Iowa. You don't see them in rural Wisconsin or Minnesota.

 

35:12 - Robert Bryce 

They just don't. People there don't care about them. They don't want them. They drive pickups.

 

35:18 - Isaac Orr 

And that's why people like Jesse Jenkins get paid the big bucks to tell them that they're not paying more. They basically gaslight the public into saying, well, you know, this isn't this isn't wind and solar's fault. It's the interest rates or it's the additional transmission costs that are being built. But let's think about this for a second. You only need the transmission if you're building a lot of new capacity that doesn't work very frequently, and you need to have these huge transfers of electricity across the bulk power system.

 

35:46 - Isaac Orr 

So, I mean, even Jesse Jenkins' report says, what, there's going to be a 2x need for additional transmission capacity if we're going to do this Rube Goldberg wind, solar, and battery storage thing. So they say, oh, no, no, no, it's the transmission without thinking, oh, well, you wouldn't need the transmission if you were replacing coal plants with new nuclear plants, which is what we've been advocating for six or seven years at this point. Nuclear is a plug and play replacement for coal.

 

36:14 - Isaac Orr 

If you care about reducing emissions, do that. Then the interest rates, that only affects you if you're building new capacity because guess what? If you've paid off your mortgage, the 8% interest rate doesn't matter to you, right? So most of the plants, the utilities are shutting down are depreciated assets, which means they're not making a return for their shareholders. So they want to shut them down as quickly as possible and build a whole bunch of new stuff. I mean, your line is follow the money.

 

36:43 - Robert Bryce 

Well, yeah, well, let's explore that because therein lies one of the key differences in the generation fleet in America, right? The co-ops don't have that same interest, right? Their depreciation is not as important to them or the public power guys, right? Because they're owned by their owners, right? They're owned by their customers. So that point you're making about They're, they're in no hurry to close down their coal plants they wanted that cheap power because that's how they're measured, right, it's not that they don't have that accounting benefit of the depreciation doesn't matter to them they they want to run those plants into the ground in order to keep the keep.

 

37:16 - Robert Bryce 

Keep the low cost power coming. But is that how important have you thought about that? And you mean, I know you're looking at the RTO level and the national level, but the differences between because I talked to a lot of co-ops, I'm all about co-ops, I'm all about public power, that difference between the IOUs and the public power entities, publicly owned power entities and how their interests differ. Have you thought much about that?

 

37:42 - Isaac Orr 

Only insofar as like the utilities, like let's say in Minnesota, especially Excel energy, they're the worst offender. They're the ones. Yep, yep. So the first one first investor owned utility to say we're going to be carbon free by 2050. Right. So, you know, the utilities used to be run by engineers. And when they did, or they were,

 

37:50 - Robert Bryce 

And investor owned utility.

 

38:04 - Isaac Orr 

They kept costs low, and they cared about reliability. Now, most of these utilities are run by lawyers and accountants, and all they care about is shutting down depreciated assets and building new stuff. Pad the rate base, right? That's the name of the game.

 

38:20 - Robert Bryce 

Collect the tax credits while doing so.

 

38:22 - Isaac Orr 

Collect the tax credits, pretend you're saving the planet, line your own CEO pockets, give them a big ESG bonus, and who cares about the rate payer? Because I'm not going to be here in five years anyway. But when you have the co-ops, they're a lot more inclined to say, well, we have these assets that we've paid for. So a lot of the co-ops in Minnesota purchased their power from lignite-fired power plants in North Dakota, Coal Creek Station being one of them. So they tend to care more about it.

 

38:54 - Isaac Orr 

The property or the co-op that manages the umbrella organization, Great River Energy, they made a big mistake. I think, in my opinion, they wanted to shut down Coal Creek and they ended up selling it. So they can purchase from the market right and I think that as more dispatchable capacity is retired you're going to see more wild fluctuations in the wholesale price of electricity like we see in texas so I think that great energy customers and I'm one of them. At my house here, are going to be subject to higher costs because management there wanted to show how green they were by getting rid of their coal plant.

 

39:36 - Isaac Orr 

But as a rule, I think you're absolutely right. The rural electric co-ops want to maintain that reliable capacity, the stuff that their members have already paid for, and they deserve the dividends of low-cost reliable power as a result.

 

39:51 - Robert Bryce 

Well, and just to put you may know these numbers but I studied them so I haven't met in my head but they're about 2000 public power companies public power utilities in the US, including I live in Austin Austin energy is one of them. L.A. Power and Water, L.A. Water and Power is one of them, another one. So 2,000 of those and around 800 or 900 electric co-ops. And by comparison, investor-owned utilities like Excel, there are about 180. But those investor-owned utilities serve about half of the U.S.

 

40:18 - Robert Bryce 

Population. But I want to read since we talked about XL I think I read this the last time you were on but I love this what what Ben folk said in in his Senate testimony in 2021. He said he's talking about XL he's now retired he said by 2030, we estimate renewable energy will make up two thirds of our energy mix. However, Renewables can only take us so far. At higher levels of intermittent renewables, the cost of the energy system begins to skyrocket and its reliability degrades. That means that the whole industry, even Xcel Energy with our remarkable renewable resources, will need some form of new carbon-free, 24-7 dispatchable generation to remove the last increment of emissions on our system and get to zero.

 

40:58 - Robert Bryce 

He doesn't say the word nuclear there, but that's clearly what he's referring to. And you talk about nuclear in your report. And there's a schism here as well between the Republicans and the Democrats in that the Republicans seem much more still more open to and supportive of nuclear than Democrats. Has the conversation shifted in Minnesota? I know the battle has been pitched there over the future of nuclear. What are you seeing in your home state?

 

41:25 - Isaac Orr 

Oh, no, it hasn't. The Republicans are saying it's.

 

41:29 - Robert Bryce 

Dominant. Dominate the

 

41:31 - Isaac Orr 

So the Democrats have a trifecta. They got the House, they got the Senate, they got the governor, they passed a 100% carbon free electricity mandate while explicitly not repealing our moratorium on new nuclear power plants. We talked about this a lot the last time I was on the show, right? The Republicans are saying, hey, Let's just put new nuclear power plants that are coal plants. Let's do this smart. And the Democrats basically said no. But like, let's let's not pretend that this is a Republican Democrat problem.

 

42:00 - Isaac Orr 

Right. I mean, Chuck Grassley is the granddaddy of the wind production tax credit. And even when Trump was in office and they had the House, the Senate. And President Trump, they still couldn't kill the wind production tax credit, right? And ultimately, that is undermining the reliability of the grid in a big way now, and they need to stop that. I think that they should propose a severance tax on wind and solar. Just throw as much uncertainty into the market as possible, because that's exactly what the administrative state is doing to the dispatchable coal and gas fleet.

 

42:33 - Isaac Orr 

So you got to fight fire with fire. And this idea that, oh, we're going to play nice and continue to subsidize the energy sources that are depriving dispatchable generators of the revenue, they need to stay online. That's a strategy to lose. We need to change tactics here. The production tax credits, the investment tax credit, they need to go 100%. But we'll see what happens.

 

42:55 - Robert Bryce 

Well, they were just effectively made permanent under the Inflation Reduction Act, which Travis Fisher has documented, and so has Wood Mackenzie, that in fact, unless the ITC is repealed in the Inflation Reduction Act, ultimately the solar provisions in there could cost $900 billion by 2060. It's an open-ended set of subsidies. But let's talk about Colorado, because I want to compare and contrast the work you've done on MISO with what you did on Colorado. You wrote, and this is another study that you did with Mitch Rawling and someone else from the Independence Institute.

 

43:34 - Robert Bryce 

Who was that?

 

43:34 - Isaac Orr 

Yeah, Jake Fogelman. Great guy.

 

43:37 - Robert Bryce 

Where is he based?

 

43:38 - Isaac Orr 

He's at the Independence Institute in Denver.

 

43:41 - Robert Bryce 

Oh, okay, right. Okay. Uh so you wrote co that you concluded that compliance with the all renewable mandate envisioned by Governor Jared Polis, a Democrat in Colorado, would cost the state $318 billion through 2050, would result in an average cost of two hundred forty three dollars per month for the typical Colorado household over the same time frame two hundred forty three dollars a month, that is a big number.

 

43:42 - Isaac Orr 

Yep.

 

44:05 - Robert Bryce 

But did your study get much traction in the Colorado press?

 

44:10 - Isaac Orr 

Yeah, actually, it got quite a good amount. I mean, more than we would have expected, I would have expected zero, because they're all kind of in the tank for this thing. But, you know, the big difference, I guess, go ahead and ask your next question.

 

44:23 - Robert Bryce 

Go ahead, because I want to.

 

44:25 - Robert Bryce 

Your conclusion here kind of is one of the things we've been talking around, but go ahead.

 

44:29 - Isaac Orr 

Yeah, so the big difference between what Governor Polis is looking at in Colorado in our EPA modeling is Polis wants to go 100% carbon free using wind, solar and battery storage, and the EPA plan still had a lot of natural gas capacity online. Right. So having dispatchable thermal plants really reduces the amount of overbuilding and curtailing that you need to do on your system in order to meet hourly electricity demand. Right. So like the more dispatchable capacity, that's why nuclear is so valuable to a grid that's going to be carbon free, because you know, 95% of the time, it's probably going to be there.

 

45:09 - Isaac Orr 

Whereas wind can be operating at 90% of its potential output, or it can be negative 22 during a polar vortex, they shut the wind turbines down and they're actually drawing power from the system. Right, so it's really about the value that different generation technologies are providing to the consumer. And wind and solar just aren't very valuable because you can't control when they, you know, are generating and electricity just so happens to be the service, right, as you say, that needs to have exact balance at every nanosecond, right.

 

45:44 - Isaac Orr 

So, you know, there's a reason why we didn't have a ton of wind and solar on the grid before we started subsidizing them. It's because they're not very good at it.

 

45:53 - Robert Bryce 

Well, when you said that, the value part of this, because I testified before the Senate, now it's a couple of years ago, but I remember very vividly the senator from New Mexico, Martin Heinrich, after I finished, he pulled out this massive poster board that showed levelized cost of energy and saying, well, see, look, solar and wind are cheaper, blah, blah, blah. And then he made sure not to ask me a question or did not give me the opportunity to respond to it. But that seems to be the the big schism or the big, big differential here is, oh, well, let's look at the cost.

 

46:26 - Robert Bryce 

And what you're just underscoring is what is the value. And I thought if I had that opportunity again, I'd say, yes, Senator levelized cost. Well, okay, a pup tent, you can call a pup tent housing. But its value as housing over the long term is very, very low. It might work for a night or two, but not for a year. And so that pup tent is the, I'm making the analogy, the pup tent is the solar and wind and the nuclear plant is the brick house, right? I'll ask a question here. So is that this, there's so much focus on the cost and not enough focus on the value of these different generation sources.

 

47:01 - Robert Bryce 

Is that another way to think about this?

 

47:02 - Isaac Orr 

Oh, 100%, Robert. So if you look at our Colorado report, we found that meeting Colorado's peak electricity demand using nuclear reactors, right? We're big fans of the APR 1400. Let's just hire a bunch of South Korean firms, come over here, or big reactors, like let's not mess around, let's bring in the experts. And then we also had small modular reactors as our peaking resource, right? I don't know that that's the best peaking resource because it's super capital intensive and you're not going to be running it very frequently.

 

47:34 - Isaac Orr 

But meeting Colorado's peak electricity demand with nuclear power plants and some battery storage would require fourteen thousand three hundred and seventy two megawatts of installed capacity. Doing that same thing, so meeting Colorado's electricity demand for every hour of the year, with wind, solar and battery storage would require one hundred twenty four thousand five hundred thirty eight megawatts of installed capacity. So just a huge increase in the amount of intermittent unreliable capacity that you'd need in order to do the same job.

 

48:08 - Isaac Orr 

So when you're doing that, if you're going to hire a hundred and twenty four thousand employees to flip burgers when you only needed 14,000, you're going to have to pay them a lot. So that is why when Mitch and I do our levelized cost of energy analysis, we always add in those additional costs. So in our Colorado analysis, we found that if you're Ultimately, what we need to we need to stop thinking about the cost of generating electricity, and we need to start talking about the cost of serving load.

 

48:40 - Isaac Orr 

How much does it cost to meet the electricity demand that we have with different energy resources? And when you look at that with wind and solar in Colorado under the POLIS plan, we found it would cost two hundred and fourteen dollars a megawatt hour to meet demand with wind and 302 with solar. The new APR 1400s were like at $67 or something like that, right? Because a nuclear plant is going to last 80 years. We're seeing in Minnesota right now, wind turbines are only lasting for 11 or 12 before they're being repowered, right?

 

49:18 - Isaac Orr 

So the value proposition, once you add in the additional transmission costs, the property taxes, the utility profits, the rate base that we just got done talking about, and then the overbuilding and curtailment that you need to do on your Rube Goldberg grid in order to meet that demand, it's way more expensive. And we're seeing that everywhere that wind and solar are being tried at scale.

 

49:43 - Robert Bryce 

I want to underscore what you just said about what the generation fleet that would be needed with nuclear versus solar and wind. So it's a factor of nine from 14 gigawatts with nuclear versus 124 gigawatts with wind and solar and batteries, a 9x differential. And when I hear that, I'm thinking, well, 9x in terms of copper, steel, neodymium iron boron magnets, concrete, all of the things that you're going to need to build all that stuff, and then the massive amounts of transmission.

 

50:13 - Robert Bryce 

It's just this, again, the disconnect between the physical world and the spreadsheet jockeys just seems ever, ever more apparent. I wanted to read this in the conclusion on your Colorado study that you did with Mitch Rawling and Jake, I'm sorry?

 

50:29 - Isaac Orr 

A woman.

 

50:30 - Robert Bryce 

Jake Fogelman. You wrote, ultimately, the idea behind attempting to power a grid at scale with just wind, solar, existing hydropower, and current battery technology is a profoundly unserious one. It is primarily a reflection of ideological preferences more than any consideration of real world economic costs and physical constraints. I like the way you put that. And I think that's exactly right. It is unserious. But yet, it captivates the public in a way that, you know, this, again, the somehow this renewable energy fetishism is going to replace is going to save us from this potentially very disastrous future with regard to climate change.

 

51:11 - Robert Bryce 

But how have we become so unserious? Is it the same detachment that you thought talked about from the outhouse to where we are?

 

51:19 - Isaac Orr 

I think so. Right. And it's the something for nothing fallacy. Right. So people have been told for a really long time that this is going to be easy and cheap and they're willing to try and see that out. You know, that's why we have jobs, Robert, because we're the ones saying, hey, this isn't working. And that that paragraph that you just read, that was all Jake Folkman. I don't want to take credit. He did an excellent job on this report. He did a lot of the verbiage for it. But yeah, I mean, people don't know where their stuff comes from And when you don't know where that stuff comes from, that allows unserious people, grifters, to get involved in that supply chain and start ladling the benefits into their own pockets.

 

51:59 - Isaac Orr 

And it just so happens that that's what's happening with the electric grid, which is the most important infrastructure we have. So we're playing stupid games, we're probably going to win some stupid prizes.

 

52:13 - Robert Bryce 

Good. So what are you working on now, Isaac? You've obviously been working a lot and I'm not diminishing the work that you have done. You've done reports on 11 states, Arizona, West Virginia, Colorado, Michigan, Virginia, and a bunch of others. You've looked at the EPA impacts on MISO. You've looked at EV mandates in Colorado. What else are you working on these days?

 

52:35 - Isaac Orr 

Yeah, so we are looking at the impact of the mercury and air toxic standards retiring six coal-fired power plants in North Dakota. What impact will that have on grid reliability moving into the future? So that's with the North Dakota Transmission Authority. We're still working on that paper on the material intensity of wind and solar, Robert. We keep promising that that'll come out soon. Hopefully we're not lying this time. So that's gonna be something that we're working on.

 

53:04 - Isaac Orr 

So Mitch and I still try to get weekly articles out there. We're doing our sub stack now, so that's been a lot of fun. So yeah, I mean, essentially it's good because every time we finish a project, somebody else says, hey, you wanna run the numbers on this for us? And we say, yeah, let's talk about it.

 

53:23 - Robert Bryce 

So a reminder on the Substack, you and Mitch are on sub stack energy bad boys dott subs dot subs stack dot com. Okay, energy bad boys dot subs stack dot com uh isaac is also on Twitter at thefrackingguy. You can also find his work at theamericanexperiment.org website. We've been talking for nearly an hour, Isaac, and I know you've got a plane to catch. So maybe in the interest of time, since we've covered a lot of the things that I was hoping we would, let's cut to the last two questions, and you know what they are.

 

53:56 - Robert Bryce 

So what are you reading these days? What's on your bookshelf there in Minneapolis?

 

53:32 - Isaac Orr 

That's right. I'm reading a couple of different books. I'm reading electric power system basics for the nonprofessional second edition. Uh, yeah, just, you know, you gotta learn the, so many people don't know the basics of this stuff.

 

54:13 - Isaac Orr 

Myself included.

 

54:14 - Robert Bryce 

I should read that one.

 

54:15 - Robert Bryce 

I haven't, I probably have it on my bookshelf, but I, I don't know. I just bluff my way through it, but yes, I need to learn my vars is what one of the things I need to learn.

 

54:23 - Isaac Orr 

Well, when you started talking about the distribution system being taken out earlier prematurely due to EV charging, that's when I was like, Okay, I need to learn more about the distribution system. So that that prompted me to pick this book up. And then.

 

54:37 - Robert Bryce 

And us. That. Title again,

 

54:38 - Isaac Orr 

I. Could.

 

54:39 - Robert Bryce 

What is it again?

 

54:39 - Isaac Orr 

Yeah, yeah, absolutely. It's a page turner. Let me tell you, it's electric power system basics for the non electrical professional second edition. And then my coworker, Peter Zeller, give a shout out to him. He's a big fan of the Power Hungry podcast. So I want him to get his,

 

54:57 - Isaac Orr 

His little, his little bump here. He recommended I start reading the Wizard and the Prophet.

 

55:03 - Robert Bryce 

So.

 

55:03 - Isaac Orr 

I'm reading that right now. And that's, that's been really good.

 

55:06 - Robert Bryce 

And that's by Charles Mann, correct? Is that right, Charles Mann? And it's about Norman Borlaug and who was the other one?

 

55:16 - Robert Bryce 

Oh, OK. All right. Or was it Paul Erlich? Or okay?

 

55:22 - Isaac Orr 

Somehow Paul Ehrlich still gets work. After being wrong as many times as he has been, but good work if you can get it, I guess. But no, we're big fans of Norman Borlaug at American Experiment, right?

 

55:35 - Isaac Orr 

Like Borlaug went to college at the University of Minnesota. That's the kind of environmentalism that we want to promote as an organization, right? Progress through improvements and Basically, making things more efficient, that's how you actually make things better. We don't want to shrink away from challenges that we face, which is how I feel about the profit side. Right? We want to, we want to be innovating our way out of problems, not pretending they're intractable and making our quality of life worse along the way.

 

56:08 - Robert Bryce 

And if any of y'all don't know, Borlaug was the father of the Green Revolution, finished his career at Texas A&M, and died about, what, five years ago, six years ago, something like that, not too long ago. But that was, and did Borlaug win the Nobel Prize? Am I remembering that correctly? Or maybe I'm inventing that. But nevertheless, was a remarkable and pivotal figure in global agriculture. So final question, Isaac, you know what's coming. What gives you hope?

 

56:38 - Isaac Orr 

Germany is not doing so hot. So.

 

56:43 - Robert Bryce 

What gives you hope is that Germany's in the ditch? I haven't. Heard. That. One.

 

56:46 - Isaac Orr 

The shot. In. Freda. Of Germany is yeah, because like, they were the darling of the wind and solar folks for a really long time, right? Like, you couldn't read any article about green energy without hearing about how smart Germany was and how stupid the United States was and it's turning into a shiza show over there and I'm here for it so.

 

57:16 - Robert Bryce 

So the hope is that the world will learn from the mistakes of Germany if there's I mean a paraphrase what you're doing what you're saying.

 

57:22 - Isaac Orr 

Yeah, and even if we don't it's fun to watch it burn.

 

57:27 - Robert Bryce 

You crack me up. Well, I talk about Germany as well. And my line is, look, if I were a better person, if I were a better Christian, I would feel sorry for them. I don't. I don't feel bad for them at all. They bragged about it. They drove themselves into the ditch. I hope you like it out there. You did it yourself.

 

57:47 - Isaac Orr 

That's right. That's right. I'm here for the Energie Weimar.

 

57:54 - Robert Bryce 

Because the energy vendor has been such a disaster. So.

 

57:57 - Isaac Orr 

That's right. Energy, energy vendor to energy Weimar. I just want people to be pushing wheelbarrows full of solar panels around.

 

58:08 - Robert Bryce 

Speaking German all the while, and congratulating themselves. Well, listen, Isaac, it's always been a pleasure. It's always a pleasure. My guest, of course, as I've said, is Isaac Orr, my friend. He's a policy fellow at the Center of the American Experiment. You can follow him at americanexperiment.org, on Twitter, at thefrackingguy, and his new sub stack with Mitch Rawling, Energy Baad Boys Subs stack. Com. Isaac, as always, a pleasure.

 

58:31 - Isaac Orr 

Hey, thanks for having me. It's been fun.

 

58:33 - Robert Bryce 

And all of you out there in podcast land. Thanks for tuning into this episode of the power hungry podcast. Make sure and tune into the next one until then. See ya.