Alternative Energy

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Bleeding Green

How Much Money will Pennsylvanians Waste on Alternative Energy Mandates?

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

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

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

Energy Mandates a Double Whammy

Alternative energy mandates raise the cost of living and make it harder for people to find work. These are the findings of a new paper on the government's futile efforts to manage the energy sector.

According to the paper's author, Dr. Timothy J. Considine, the mandates will adversely affect Pennsylvania, raising energy costs by $700 million and eliminating 11,400 jobs by 2025.

In 2004, Pennsylvania enacted the Alternative Energy Portfolio Standards (AEPS). These mandates require 18 percent of all electricity to be generated from renewable sources by 2021.

More than 98 percent of the new renewable energy capacity for Pennsylvania is supplied by wind power. This means electricity production at coal and natural gas plants fluctuates (or cycles) to accommodate times when the wind does not blow. But cycling reduces efficiency and raises costs.

In 2013, coal remained the largest source of Pennsylvania power, followed by nuclear power at 34 percent and natural gas at 22 percent. In comparison, wind power accounts for only 1.5 percent of total generation.

The high cost of renewable energy mandates isn't unique to Pennsylvania. By 2025, the mandates will destroy more than 150,000 jobs and increase electricity costs by $23.1 billion in 12 states.

If lawmakers want to shield Pennsylvanians from this economic damage, repealing the AEPS and/or refusing to extend the program should be a top priority. Rep. Sankey offered the lastest repeal bill back in 2013. 

Costs of Pennsylvania RPS in 2013 dollars (millions)








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Cycling Costs







less Fuel Costs







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Cycling Costs







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RPS Tax Subsidies







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posted by Elizabeth Stelle | 00:18 PM

The $20 Billion Energy Tax

Solar Subsidies Sink State

More than ten years after its passage, Pennsylvania's Alternative Energy Portfolio Standards continue to stunt our economy. The standards cost the state $4 billion annually, according to a study by the Institute of Political Economy at Utah State University.

Researchers reviewed renewable portfolio standards in all states and found the law reduced Pennsylvanians' personal incomes by almost $20 billion from 2004 through 2009.

Data beyond 2009 is still forthcoming, but if the trend continues, alternative energy standards will have cost Pennsylvanians almost $50 billion to date. That's not too far off from the state's pension debt.

So what do these figures mean for each household in Pennsylvania? A loss of $10,000 in purchasing power. That's an enormous cost to bear for such a small benefit. 

A recent Tribune Review article highlighting the study aptly notes this isn't an indictment of renewable energy but a reality check.

As technology advances, renewable energy will become cheaper and markets will shift to renewables as a matter of course. Mandating the shift before the technology is ready simply wastes our resources.

Up until this point, government efforts to transition to a clean energy economy have been costly and unsuccessful. Ultimately, it will be entrepreneurship, not government planning, that will make clean energy affordable and reliable for all. 

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posted by Elizabeth Stelle | 00:24 PM

The Mirage of Green Jobs

Promoters of the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency’s carbon-emission regulation attempt to playdown the jobs it would kill with promises of “green jobs”. Yet these positions pay less and are largely dependent on unreliable taxpayer subsidies for solar and wind.

"We are applying for federal grants to retrain miners for jobs that will pay less than half of what they can make in the mines,” says Robbie Matesic, executive director of the Greene County Department of Economic Development. “The hardest thing is telling a third-generation coal miner that the layoff this time isn’t just a fluctuation in the market, but will be permanent.”

A combination of tightening environmental regulations and competition from natural gas has the coal industry struggling for survival. The latest EPA effort to combat global warming seeks to sharply decrease emissions of carbon dioxide from power plants, but it's projected to reduce the earth’s temperature by less than one-tenth of a degree Celsius by the year 2100.

Still visions of green jobs are routinely advanced by environmental interest groups, President Obama and other politicians as they push EPA’s “Clean Power Plan.”

“When you shift to renewables, you’re creating good green jobs in wind and solar,” says state Rep. Greg Vitali (D-Delaware and Montgomery). “It’s really a job creator when you’re shifting to renewables.”

Sounds nice: You replace “dirty” coal with trouble-free “green” jobs. No fuss, no muss, just nirvana. But it hasn’t worked in the past, according to the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette’s PowerSource:

“The solar sector in Pennsylvania has shed 30 percent of its workforce since 2012, when the state ranked fifth in the country with 4,000 jobs, according to (The Solar Foundation). Pennsylvania’s 2,800 jobs in 2014 placed it at 15th in the country and, when looked at as a percentage of the state’s working population, the state dropped to 37th…

“Factors in the shift include a Pennsylvania rebate program that vanished, a federal tax credit that is scheduled to wane and the fact that the state’s market for renewable energy credits — designed to incentivize projects and prove compliance with the state’s renewable goals — has suffered from oversupply with credits purchased from other states.”

The Pennsylvania Manufacturers’ Association estimates that each green job costs taxpayers $300,000 in subsidies.

Back in Greene County, Ms. Martesic sees more possibilities for displaced coal workers in metals and advanced materials manufacturing, although she says that the transition will take more than “a year or two” that regulators currently are allowing. She also says manufacturing will require “reliable energy” supplies. In other words, energy that’s available when the sun isn't shining and the wind isn’t blowing. 

With the possible demise of coal-fired plants that supply 40 percent of the state’s electricity, and the limitations of today’s renewables, it is disingenuous to ignore the significant job losses Pennsylvanians will experience if the EPA gets its way.

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posted by Gordon Tomb | 10:07 AM