A new study from the Beacon Hill Institute at Suffolk University finds that Pennsylvania's Alternative Energy Portfolio Standards will costs Pennsylvanians millions in higher energy costs.
Pennsylvania must undergo a rapid transformation to reverse the poor policy decisions that have eroded economic freedoms and brought the state to its present condition. To provide a roadmap for success in this critical endeavor, the Commonwealth Foundation has compiled a list of 80 policy recommendations for Gov. Corbett and state legislators to help lead a Pennsylvania comeback. Each of these recommendations links to Commonwealth Foundation research with more information on
A lot can be spun from the results of the Nov. 2 elections, but one fact is uncontrovertible: Pennsylvanians are sick of centrally planned, highly regulated, gimmick-driven economic policy. It hasn't worked, and now they want results.
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State legislators who advocate for an expansion of government incentives for alternative energy sources need to pay attention to the events happening across the pond where the European Commission is abandoning country-by-country targets for greenhouse-gas emissions after 2020.
Mounting debt and surging rates from an over-reliance on renewable energy sources such as solar and wind prompted the commission’s action, reports the Wall Street Journal (paywall):
Take Spain, where financial incentives for renewable energy have driven renewables to as much as 25% of electricity generation. They have also left the country with a $41 billion gap between what energy costs to produce and what utilities can charge for power. Mariano Rajoy's government has been scrambling to scale back the subsidies and close the gap. These efforts have left in the lurch those who installed wind and solar on the promise of high fixed payments for their power.
In Germany, Angela Merkel is also seeking to push through cuts in wind and solar subsidies and to cap new installations of renewable capacity going forward. Germany's feed-in tariffs—which guarantee renewable-energy suppliers above-market prices for their power—have helped drive up retail power prices by 17% in the past four years while costing utilities and small businesses billions. Many of Germany's largest energy users are exempt from the green surcharges, a fact that the European Commission is currently investigating as a possible illegal subsidy.
Moreover, the Journal says, European companies are moving production to the U.S. where the shale gas boom is producing an advantage in energy costs—not to mention a reduction in carbon emissions as natural gas picks up more of the share of electricity generation.
As the Journal said in a separate piece:
“The innovation of the private oil and gas industry in extracting natural gas from shale has done more to reduce CO2 emissions than have all of the Obama Administration's subsidies, mandates and crony-capitalist schemes for renewable energy.”
Another benefit of the gas boom has been lower heating bills, which have remained moderate even during recent cold snaps.
All of which suggests that state Rep. Tommy Sankey (R-Clearfield) is on the right track with his bill to repeal Pennsylvania’s Alternative Energy Portfolio Standards.
The standards—adopted in 2004—require the state’s electric companies to obtain 15 percent of their energy from alternative sources by 2023. Europe’s experience is crystal clear evidence it’s time for government to stop picking energy winners and losers.
One news story highlights hundreds of jobs lost and millions of taxpayer dollars down the drain via corporate welfare. Another celebrates millions of new state revenue and free market job creation. This contrast offers a lesson for lawmakers.
The closure of Pittsburgh-based Flaberg Solar, a manufacturer of mirrors for the solar energy industry, is a tragic story of job loss and taxpayer abuse. Flaberg was awarded $10.2 million in stimulus funds and received an additional $10 million in state grants, putting taxpayers on the hook for up to $20 million.
(T)he current order and market situation in the North American solar market does not offer any prospect of profitably justifying to continue [the plant's operation], said Flaberg Solar's parent company in a statement.
Flaberg Solar, which once employed 200 people, says it cannot afford to pay former workers severances owed them. Vendors stand by with uncollected receivables as the company projects a debt of as much as $7 million.
A second article reported that the commonwealth expects to collect $400 million from the Marcellus Shale Impact Fee in the first two years of the tax's existence.
Although the tax was an unnecessary money grab, its success in generating revenue demonstrates the ability of private ventures to produce thousands of jobs, economical energy and billions of dollars in wealth without government aid.
The entrepreneurial spirit exemplified in the development of Pennsylvania's Marcellus Shale is key to the higher standard of living Americans enjoy. In contrast, corporate welfare schemes like subsidies for Flaberg Solar squander capital and destroy jobs.
For years, you’ve heard conservatives say the wind power industry would be better off without government subsidies. But now even wind industry advocate and Tang Energy CEO Patrick Jenevin is joining the chorus via the Wall Street Journal.
Without subsidies, the wind industry would be forced to take a fresh look at its product, says Jenevin. And if there is truly a need for wind energy, entrepreneurs who improve the business's fundamentals will find a way to compete.
Jenevin, a developer of "clean energy" projects, including wind farms, makes the following points:
- Subsidies make wind power developers focus less on efficiency and more on securing government grants.
- While receiving $8.4 billion in cash grants or tax credits under the 2009 federal stimulus program, wind farms were increasingly built in less-windy locations.
- Wind power prices have increased nearly 46 percent since 2005.
- Wind power will make marginal-not revolutionary-contributions to the energy mix.
What is the cost of over-priced wind power to Pennsylvanians?
According to The Beacon Hill Institute of Suffolk University, the state's Alternative Energy Portfolio Standards, which require a percentage of electricity sold to retail customers be derived from sources such as wind power, will raise consumers' costs by as much as $3 billion in 2021.
To read more about the cost of renewable energy mandates see our Bleeding Green poligraph.
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The Commonwealth Foundation is Pennsylvania's free-market think tank. The Commonwealth Foundation crafts free-market policies, convinces Pennsylvanians of their benefits, and counters attacks on liberty.