Dems’ energy policy: If you can’t beat ‘em, force it on ‘em

Posted by on Jun 4th, 2010 and filed under Congress, Economy, Energy, Environment. You can follow any responses to this entry through the RSS 2.0. You can leave a response or trackback to this entry from your site

By Brian Johnson

With the “cash-for-caulkers” bill, the Home Star Energy Retrofit Act (HR 5019), passing the House and making its way through the Senate, there have been substantiated rumors that Senate Democrats will try to expand the scope and incorporate additional “job creating” measures. They claim a federally mandated Renewable Energy Standard (RES) will do the trick.

The Hill reports that Senate Leader Harry Reid has said he would support a “smaller” bill similar to the legislation the Senate Energy and Natural Resources Committee approved last June with four GOP votes. The key component of the Committee passed bill was a RES that mandates all states get 25 percent of their energy from “renewable” sources, defined by the government, by 2025.

Looking to nudge America toward new energy sources, Democrats assume companies will have to employ new workers to build new green energy facilities, and RES legislation would jumpstart this process. RES requires that a percentage of a state’s energy production be derived from “clean” energy sources, generally understood as wind and solar. Unable to pass legislation that taxes, regulates, or trades carbon permits, RES mandates look to accomplish the same goal—a forced shift away from coal and fossil fuel consumption to green energy.

Government intervention into state’s energy policy is necessary if wind and solar energy are to be adopted en mass. “Renewable” energy sources, at this point in time, are significantly less efficient than coal—the most common resource used in energy production. The costs per megawatt hour are $78.10 for conventional coal power, $149.30 for onshore wind power, $191.10 for offshore wind power, $256.60 for thermal solar power, and $396.10 for photovoltaic solar power, according to the Energy Information Administration. These numbers explain why RES, carbon taxes, or green subsidies are the only way that wind and solar energy can compete with the more efficient coal energy.

RES language was present in the contested cap-and-trade legislation, which passed the House last year. This proposal, HR 2454 would have required every state to derive 10 percent of their energy from federally deemed renewable sources (and 25 percent by 2025), sans nuclear energy. Unsurprisingly, many states opposed having federal RES shoved down their throats and 29 states have already passed and implemented RES of their own.

A federal, one-size-fits-all RES assumes that all states have the same renewable resources, when clearly they do not. For example, California and North Dakota do not have the same renewable energy potential. Evidence of this problem can be found in the following chart:

Fourteen states (in bold boxes) currently receive less than one percent of their electricity from “renewable” sources. Implementing an unrealistic mandate without an opt-in option or state-defining renewable option will do nothing more than increase the cost of electricity on rate paying consumers. States that cannot meet RES will face monetary penalties from the federal government. These penalties will be passed onto consumers in the form of higher fees and taxes they simply cannot afford.

Democrats have been looking for ways to convolute and then shift the national energy debate in ways that mask the real costs of their actions. RES represents the latest iteration in this long narrative. Unfortunately, the job-creating story told and retold by the left is nothing more than a fairytale. Heritage Foundation scholars crunched the numbers and found that instituting a 35 percent RES by 2035 America would loose 1,000,000 jobs.

Don’t take their word for it; look at Europe. In Spain, government subsidies for the wind and solar industry prevent 2.2 such jobs from being created in the private sector and have contributed to the countries high unemployment levels.

Domestically, the DeSoto Solar Center in Florida was supposed to be the “largest solar power plant in the United States,” according to President Obama. The Center received $150 million from the Recovery Act. After using 400 construction workers to build the site, the Solar Center now employs only two people. So while the transition to new energy sources creates jobs, many of them are temporary, a distinction many on the left fail to make.

Federally mandated electricity standards destroy jobs while raising energy prices. The states that have adopted their own standards know what works best for them. Mandating a blanket solution from Washington is never the answer.


Brian M Johnson is federal affairs manager handling energy policy at Americans for Tax Reform where Christopher Prandoni is a federal affairs associate.  Christopher Pandoni contributed to this report.

This article was originally published at

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