Renewable Portfolio Standards

Renewable Portfolio Standards, also known as Renewable Energy Standards, force families, businesses and industry to buy expensive electricity.

Why else would General Electric Company build a $600 million dollar plant to manufacture a product that few would buy in a free market?

Photo-voltaic solar produces electricity at a cost of between 20 cents and 28 cents per kilowatt hour, which is several times the cost of generating electricity from natural gas or coal.

In a free market most people would never buy this expensive electricity and would opt, instead, to buy less expensive electricity.

The problem is that Renewable Portfolio Standards (RPS) require that a minimum amount of electricity sold in a state come from renewable sources, such as wind and solar.

Approximately 27 states have these standards. According to the EIA, they range from 8% by 2020 for Pennsylvania, to 40% by 2017 for Maine. California recently adopted an RPS of 33%, where 33% of electricity sold in California must come from renewables by 2030.

Congress has also proposed a national Renewable Energy Standard of around 25%. This has been pushed by Senator Bingaman (D, AZ) who has said, “I have long supported a Renewable Electricity Standard.”

A national standard, such as proposed by Senator Bingaman, would require that a minimum of 25% of the electricity sold in a state be from renewable sources, such as solar and wind.

It’s interesting to speculate why GE would promote expensive electricity when it’s not in the best interests of families, businesses and industry. Would these GE customers be leery of buying GE products when they learn that GE is promoting a requirement for them to pay more for their electricity?

Now, the question has been raised in Colorado whether these standards are constitutional, where a complaint has been filed in federal court. The complaint states, “[RPS] discriminates – by mandating the purchase and use of renewables – against other legal, less costly, less polluting, safer and more reliable in-state and out-of-state sources of electricity.”

With the failure of cap & trade in Congress, and the likelihood that a price won’t soon be set on carbon, global warming advocates have seen Renewable Portfolio Standards as a back-door method for cutting CO2 emissions. These standards have received little scrutiny from the public and have been enacted by state legislatures without much publicity.

These standards, together with having the EPA regulate CO2 emissions, are now the main thrust of organizations that want to cut America’s CO2 emissions 80% by 2050.


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Note to First Time Viewers

As a new reader, you are probably wondering why I am writing these articles, as well as whether I am qualified to write them.

My motivation is simple: We are faced with a decision. Either we will develop low-cost, abundant energy that is conducive to economic growth, or we will choose high-cost energy that will inhibit economic growth in order to cut CO2 emissions.

These articles are designed to provide people with factual information about energy issues so they are better prepared to make this decision. Collectively, we will make this decision by selecting leaders for our communities and government who will enact the laws and regulations that will either promote low-cost, abundant energy, or, instead, insist on costly energy to cut CO2 emissions.

This information should also help when judging other government actions affecting energy policy.

These articles purposely differentiate between oil and electricity. While, in a fundamental sense all energy is interchangeable, a BTU is a BTU etc., we actually have two separate delivery systems. These systems are like two, isolated silos, with virtually no interconnection.

One system is for generating and distributing electricity, the other is for producing and using oil for transportation.

This is an important distinction, since actions, such as using wind to generate electricity, do not currently affect our supply or use of oil. Conversely, only 1% of our electricity is generated using oil, and much of this is in Hawaii where there are few options.

As for my background, click “about” for a brief CV.

If you are concerned about energy policy, please copy this link and email it to your friends and family.


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