WSJ Joins Fake News Media

WSJ Joins Fake News Media

There was a time, not too long ago, that a reader of the Wall Street Journal could trust the news in the paper.

Unfortunately, the WSJ has been drifting left over the past few years, and, based on the June 22-23 issue, has completed its move to the fake news category.

The story in question was a two-page spread in the Exchange, “Plugging in The Wind”.

It was presented as news, but more closely resembled an advertisement.

A full page spread for advertising in the WSJ is, at a minimum, for a country wide insertion, around $110,000 according to the WSJ website.

The article was actually a review of a new book:

“Adapted from ‘SUPERPOWER: One Man’s Quest to Transform American Energy’ by Wall Street Journal reporter Russell Gold, to be published by Simon & Schuster, Inc., on June 25.”

My first question was, “Is this news or a $220,000 gift of free advertising?”

My second question was, “Is the article factually correct?”

I can’t answer the first question, but after reading the article my conclusion is that the article is misleading at best.

The gist of the article is that wind power is cheap and that it could, if politicians hadn’t interfered, replace fossil fuels.

Regardless of what the article claims, wind power is not cheaper than power generated by coal-fired and natural gas power plants. The reference for the claim is a graph using data from Lazard. My evaluation of the Lazard claim is in my article, Misleading Costs for Wind and Solar. As the title indicates, Lazard’s claims are misleading at best.

The evidence is overwhelming that wind and solar are more expensive than coal-fired or natural gas power plants.

I will mention here that my new book, Energy: The Source of Prosperity, will be available from Amazon on August 1. The book contains overwhelming proof that wind and solar are not only more expensive than coal-fired or natural gas, but that wind and solar are also unreliable and intermittent.


This brings us to a few other items ignored or underreported in the WSJ article Plugging in the Wind.

There was little mention that wind and solar were both unreliable and intermittent, requiring backup or storage, both of which increase costs. (There was a vague mention about DC transmission which is covered below.)

No mention was made either of the 2.3 cent per kWh subsidy that wind is receiving to make it possible to sell power cheaply.

DC transmission lines, which the article refers to as a key component in the effort to use wind, have advantages and disadvantages, which were described in my article DC Transmission for Cutting CO2 Emissions.

Quoting from the referenced article:

  1. DC transmission is better than AC transmission for:

(a) Shipping large amounts of power over long distances

(b) Conducting power underwater

2. On the negative side, DC transmission is point-to-point which limits its ability to distribute electricity to multiple locations.

3. DC transmission is more expensive when used for shorter distances, say under 400 miles.

These details were conveniently missing from the WSJ article.

For example: If a DC line was built from Arizona to Chicago to distribute solar power, it would only operate during the day when the sun was shining. Or a DC line built from Montana to Atlanta would only operate intermittently when the wind was blowing.

Note that the sources, i.e., individual wind turbines and individual PV solar installations, are spread out over very large areas, while a hydropower plant is located at a single location. This is one reason why DC transmission is appropriate for transmission of electricity from hydropower plants.

DC transmission is akin to a hose: It can carry water from the spigot to the nozzle. DC is effective for moving electricity from a hydropower plant (a single point source) to a far distant area, where it then has to use AC transmission to move it to multiple cities.

It’s true, our existing grid has been built over a period of a hundred years and actually consists of three separate grids, but it’s not old-fashioned and parochial.

In fact, our existing grid is remarkably flexible: It can gather power from multiple sources and then distribute power to many points, while DC transmission is inflexible, point to point transmission.

I’m afraid the WSJ article is similar to the Green New Deal, all pie in the sky and misleading at best.

. . .

10 Replies to “WSJ Joins Fake News Media”

  1. Donn, Thank you for this review!

    I was also surprised to find a two-page spread on a new book, and in the “Exchange” section of the Journal. Most of the books that are reviewed in the weekend edition are in the “Review” section of the paper. The book “Superpower: One Man’s Quest to Transform American Energy” was by a WSJ reporter, which is probably the reason they feature it.

    You don’t mention the amazing map in the article. The map shows solar or wind as cheapest in many sections of the country, while combined cycle natural gas beats it in other sections. Talk about an apples-to-oranges comparison! A combined cycle plant is a baseload plant! Or should be used as such, at least.

    Well, there is so much in that article that is misleading…you can’t write a book about the article and cover everything!

    Again, thank you for your note.

    • Thanks. I appreciate your comment.
      The map is a good example of misinformation. I may use it in another article. It’s such a gross distortion of the facts. As you point out, they ignore the difference between baseload and intermittent power.
      The idea that solar is the least costly method for generating electricity in northern Wisconsin and Minnesota is absurd.
      The WSJ article is replete with misinformation.
      To think that the WSJ would publish such an article boggles my mind.

  2. Costs as we know come in many forms and not just at the meter. Air pollution comes to mind as does the cost to the environment when developing infrastructure and the procuring / utilization of raw and refined materials. Additionally consideration must be made for the costs involved in containment of byproducts including after its monetary benefits have expired. here in Vernon we are dealing with the cost of re mediating the Vermont Yankee nuclear power station order to reap economic benefit from the site in the distant future. While the plant is being removed, our town deals with an economic hole if you will. Here is a report on the cost of air pollution in the USA.

  3. I am concerned that WSJ is moving to the left as I figured it was always “fair & balanced”. Whatever the term is nowadays. It to me this is significant. Who can you trust today with big time propaganda masquerading as fact? I hope WSJ learns from this incident to present just the facts not opinions. I always read your comments and follow what is happening in energy production. I have quit several news organizations and long standing “nature” programs because of such activities.

    • bvd:
      Thanks. I appreciate your comments. Please be assured that my articles can be relied on to be factually correct. So far, over the past 15 years, no one has brought anything to my attention, other than typos, that proved to be inaccurate. Some have tried, but so far I have been able to support my articles with factual sources and data.

  4. Norma:
    The article you reference is an example of imponderables, especially as it relates to 2.5 PM. The article was primarily intended to scare people.
    There have been other studies that prove 2.5 PM aren’t the killer that the article represents. In fact, I will publish an article on this subject in a few weeks.

    This issue was the genesis for the EPA to restrict organizations or individuals who received government grants from being members of EPA panels. The original EPA rulings on this issue were tainted by political activists, rather than scientific data.
    It reminds me of the hysteria around DDT that ultimately led to the deaths of thousands, if not millions, because its use to combat malaria was banned.

  5. I am the “Julie Morton” in this book. I can assure you that it is fully biased and not truthful. Although I met with the author in my home, Arkansas, and told him the other side of the story, he chose to ignore what I told him. The people he describes who worked for Clean Line bear no resemblance to who they were when we met them. We found them to be haughty, condescending Ivy Leaguers who had no concept of how to do their jobs. I spent 10 years buying electrical transmission line right-of-way for a major utility serving Arkansas and Oklahoma. The very fact that these guys thought they were so special that they could acquire 90-95% of the right-of-way without condemnation shows how ridiculously overconfident they were and how little they knew about transmission projects. In addition, to your points, it was not just the TVA that told Skelly they did not need this commodity, the Southern Company refused Skelly repeatedly. Finally, in desepreation, Skelly told them they would deliver any type of generated electricity, including coal. There are so many overstatements and biased opinions in this book that I cannot even begin to counter them all. Suffice it to say that Gold has painted Skelly and his band of slicksters with a gilded brush. In the 8 long years we fought these flim-flam men, we came to call this “Skelly spin”. and this book is filled with it. I fought this debacle not because I had personal properyt involved, but because it was going to destoy 8,000 acres of beautiful, fragile environment, and ways of life for which the people of Arkansas had fought and toiled for years. If that makes me that hackneyed cliche, NIMBY, then so be it. I am proud to be one. So, if you want a totally biased account of this project, this is your book. If you want the truth, you will have to look elsewhere because, I fear, Gold has drunk Skelly’s snakeoil by the gallon. We here in Arkansas didn’t drink a drop!

  6. Pingback: Weekly Local weather and Power Information Roundup #365 – All My Daily News

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