The U.S. Senate is considering a nation renewable energy standard (RES) that would require 15% of all electricity produced in the U.S. come from so-called renewable energy sources such as wind and solar power by 2021. Currently about 3% of electricity is produced from wind and solar. Twenty-nine states have some form of RES; Arizona has a 15% requirement (by 2025), and California has a 33% RES requirement by the year 2020.
The renewable energy standard is a backdoor to Cap & Trade, and will cost us dearly because wind and solar generation of electricity are intermittent, very expensive, and requires conventional generation backup.
The Energy Information Administration (EIA) calculated “levelized” costs for various electrical generation systems. “Levelized costs represent the present value of the total cost of building and operating a generating plant over its financial life, converted to equal annual payments and amortized over expected annual generation from an assumed duty cycle. The key factors contributing to levelized costs include the cost of constructing the plant, the time required to construct the plant, the non-fuel costs of operating the plant, the fuel costs, the cost of financing, and the utilization of the plant.” The EIA calculated these costs in dollars per megawatthour as follows:
Conventional coal power: $100.40; Natural gas: $83.10; Nuclear: $119.00; Onshore wind power: $149.30; Offshore wind power: $191.10; Thermal solar power: $256.60, Photo-voltaic solar power: $396.10.
Note also, that the availability, i.e., the ability to produce electricity on demand, according to EIA, is 85% for coal, 87% for natural gas, 90% for nuclear, but only 34%-39% for wind, and 21%-31% for solar.
A Heritage Foundation analysis of a generic RES found that a 22.5% RES by 2025 would cause household electricity prices to jump 36%, and industry prices would rise by 60% by 2035. That would cost an average family an additional $2,400 per year. There would be one million fewer people working on average with the RES in effect. And as the mandated level of renewable use rises over time, so do the losses imposed on the economy. Summing up the impacts for 2012–2035 yields a total loss of $5.2 trillion in GDP.
Dr. Fred Singer opines: “Now, it is quite clear that wind and solar are not economic — and they probably never will be competitive, even when fuel prices rise significantly. So the RES mandate would mean that all of us taxpayers would support even more the RES rent-seekers and lobbyists, who are already milking the government for subsidies and tax breaks for the construction of wind farms and solar energy projects.”
The alleged rationale for RES is to reduce carbon dioxide emissions and thereby forestall global warming (now “climate disruption”) although there is no credible evidence that reduced emissions will have a measurable effect on climate. Another hyped reason is to decrease our dependence on foreign oil, but the U.S. has abundant domestic resources of fossil fuels. The Obama regime, however, seems to be doing all it can to make those resources unavailable.
National renewable energy standards for electricity will have the effect of a national energy tax which will raise rates on families and businesses, cause loss of jobs, and further depress the economy. What was that promise Obama made about taxes and the middle class?
Renewable energy standards are just another rip-off of consumers and taxpayers by rent-seekers, lobbyists, and radical greens.