Alternative Energy Mandates Remain Costly

This month, the Pennsylvania Public Utility Commission’s (PUC) report evaluating the state’s alternative energy mandates surfaced, a mere two years overdue. Undoubtedly, pressure from the press for the PUC to release its 2008 legislatively-mandated report ensured its final arrival.

The new report, unlike its 2007 counterpart, offers no recommendations. The 2007 report recommended that “there should be no changes or improvements to the program at this time.” The failure of the recent report to include this advisory is troubling. If there is not enough information to determine the economic impact of the program currently, as the PUC claims, then proposals such as HB 2405 that increase Pennsylvania’s alternative energy mandates should not be advised.

An interesting fact comes from comparing the two PUC reports: alternative energy is getting more expensive, even relative to traditional power. In the 2007 report, the annual cost of ownership for solar energy per kWh was over 700% more than the cost of coal; in the latest report, that number jumps to 750%. Likewise, wind energy went from being 23% more expensive than coal to a whopping 80% more expensive.

Clearly, government subsidies and mandates aren’t making alternative energy more affordable.