Recent Issues

Bleeding Green

How Much Money will Pennsylvanians Waste on Alternative Energy Mandates?

FEBRUARY 20, 2013 | Poli-Graph by COMMONWEALTH FOUNDATION

Green jobs and the broken window fallacy

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.

80 Ideas for a Prosperous Pennsylvania

A Blueprint for Transforming the Commonwealth

JANUARY 17, 2011 | Policy Report by COMMONWEALTH FOUNDATION

80 Ideas for Pennsylvania

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

Gov., Legislature Should Repeal Costly Renewables Mandates

DECEMBER 30, 2010 | Commentary by PAUL CHESSER

Solar Subsidies Sink State

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.



Recent Blog Posts

EPA Rule Would Increase PA Energy Bills by $1,000

NOVEMBER 26, 2014

The war on coal will be a catastrophe for consumers, according to a new analysis of energy prices under new U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) regulations.

According to an Energy Ventures Analysis report, combined annual gas and electricity bills in Pennsylvania will increase by more than $1,000, or 46 percent by 2020 compared to 2012.  Industrial power rates alone will increase by 62 percent.

The November report—"Energy Market Impacts of Recent Federal Regulations on the Electric Power Sector"—says that Pennsylvania is among five states that "would bear the greatest increases in annual residential power bills." The others are Texas, Mississippi, Maryland and Rhode Island.

Commissioned by Peabody Energy, a St. Louis-based coal company, the report calculates state-by-state effects of a number of EPA regulations, including the Clean Power Plan to reduce carbon dioxide emissions.

Nationally, gas and electricity costs for all customers will increase by $284 billion, or 60 percent, says Energy Ventures.

The increase will result "in large part due to an almost 135 percent increase in the wholesale price of natural gas" as EPA regulations force coal out of use and drive up the demand for gas, says the report.

Numerous business groups and politicians are objecting to the Clean Power Plan, including Pennsylvania’s Democratic senator, Bob Casey, who says that the proposed rule for CO2 emissions, "imposes a disproportionate and unfair burden on Pennsylvania." And the Supreme Court recently announced it will review the regulations in the spring.

Energy Ventures also takes into account the economic effect of rules recently implemented to regulate ozone and particulate matter, the interstate transport of air pollution, mercury, and haze in public parks.

"Our analysis is the first to fully examine the combined economic impacts of the EPA's long list of proposed and finalized regulations on the electric power industry," says Seth Schwartz, Energy Ventures president. The Clean Power Plan is based on flawed assumptions, he says.

From skyrocketing energy bills to killing green jobs to raising manufacturers' cost, the EPA’s actions are harming all Pennsylvanians.

posted by GORDON TOMB | 00:13 PM | Comments

Warning to PA: Alternative Energy Subsidies Damage Europe

FEBRUARY 12, 2014

Energy Policy

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.

posted by GORDON TOMB | 10:45 AM | Comments

Free-market Gas Outshines Subsidized Solar

APRIL 9, 2013

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.

posted by GORDON TOMB | 09:57 AM | Comments



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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.