Storage is not an obstacle to wind and solar power.
Storage is errantly presented as obstacle
Lee Schafer joins many others in believing the false paradigm that energy storage is necessary to utilize renewable-energy sources that vary in power over time (“Promise of power storage still lacks payoff,” Feb. 16).
The premise is simply not true. Utilities across the country — and the world — are cost-effectively integrating the output of renewable resources in their flexible generation mix to match the continuously varying demand they constantly have to meet. Even Xcel Energy in Minnesota is supplying more than 15 percent of the electricity its customers use from wind power alone — and at costs less than it would experience using a new gas-fired plant. MidAmerican Energy in Iowa will be supplying more than 40 percent of its electricity from wind power by the end of 2016. All without dedicated storage, simply by using the flexible generation they have on their systems.
Utilities know that the wind does blow and the sun does shine at predictable levels when they need power. The low cost of integrating variable resources into the generation mix continues to be much less than the cost of adding dedicated energy storage.
JOHN DUNLOP, Minneapolis
Screen, then pass that information to voters
Retiring judge Thomas McCarthy makes a good argument for a better judicial appointment process, up to a point (“The best way to pick a judge’s successor,” Feb. 18). While I don’t believe that elected or appointed officials should leave their posts early, except under dire circumstances, when the need arises voters should have the opportunity to elect the successor. Any emergency appointee should be allowed to serve only until the next election (special elections are just too expensive).
Voters should have the choice to vote for judicial candidates who have been thoroughly screened to meet all requirements of the position by a judicial selection committee. The full content of the committee review should be posted online and in newspapers, giving all voters the opportunity to make fully informed decisions.
The only certainty of a judicial appointment would be that the judge would reflect the values of the current governor and deny citizens an informed choice.
MICHAEL TILLEMANS, Minneapolis
Similar to electricity in Roosevelt’s era
The Feb. 18 editorial about the proposed Comcast-Time Warner merger states: “Focus on what’s best for American consumers.” I think that focus needs to be long-term. This is a critical juncture for America’s communication infrastructure. It’s an opportunity to correct past rulings that have weakened Federal Communications Commission control of our vital cable TV and broadband Internet services.
In her 2013 book, “Captive Audience,” Susan Crawford provides excellent background for these complicated issues. One key premise is that companies that provide the “conduit” to distribute cable programming should be separate from program producers. Otherwise, they will have a conflict of interest in providing cable service to competing producers.
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