HB 80 Will Increase Energy Costs

Clean energy proponents are attempting to reignite the fire under HB 80, which would increase the amount of electricity utilities the state must produce from alternative energy sources. In a letter to the Inquirer, PennFuture claims that solar energy is free while ignoring the cost of intermediate power sources when the sun doesn’t shine.

Last week DEP Secretary John Hanger published a laundry list of alternative energy projects as proof that HB 80 would be beneficial, but if people and businesses are already investing in alternative energies, why do we need a mandate to force electric companies to use more alternative power sources?

Here is my response:

Mr. Hanger believes that through mandating an increase in the amount of electricity produced from certain alternative energy sources Pennsylvania will attract more private investments and produce green jobs, creating a more competitive energy economy. These claims fail to distinguish between market competition, which responds to consumer demand, and competition for a growing pot of taxpayer funds.

More specifically, it is almost impossible to verify the promise of green jobs because there is no concrete definition of this widely used term. The phrase can be used for any position that is remotely related to alternative energy, including administrators in the DEP itself. In reality, jobs will be destroyed by increasing regulations on disfavored energy sources.

Passing House Bill 80 will cause either a reduction of the current energy supply, given that alternative energy produced only 5.7% of Pennsylvania’s power in 2007, or dramatically raise the costs needed to fund new infrastructure and alternative energy sources that are expensive to produce. As a result, energy rates will increase just as consumers are bracing for the expiration of PA’s energy rate caps.

The only way to ensure that clean technology is affordable is to keep the market flexible and open to innovation. Propping up the alternative energy industry with a plethora of government handouts and mandates is not sustainable, even if it does provide advantages over traditional energy producers.