Renewable Portfolio Standard Scam (Part 1)

Does your state have a Renewable Portfolio Standard? Not sure? That’s not surprising. It’s one of those government programs that sucks money out of your wallet while you’re not looking. But 29 states have one, and if your state does, you should get familiar with your RPS, because it’s costing you a lot of money every year.

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Does your state have a Renewable Portfolio Standard? Not sure? That’s not surprising. It’s one of those government programs that sucks money out of your wallet while you’re not looking. But if you live in one of these 29 states, you should get familiar with your RPS, because it’s costing you a lot of money every year.

What’s a lot of money? How about $30 billion dollars annually. That’s right. $30 Billion for just 29 states… all in the name of forcing you to spend more for electricity generated by unreliable wind turbines and solar panels. Seems crazy, right? All that money for something most people don’t even know exists. How did this massive government seizure of your money even happen? 

A new report put out by the Energy Policy Institute at the University of Chicago provides some uncomfortable answers. The report discovered that the true cost of Renewable Portfolio Standards has been significantly underestimated. 

Previous studies didn’t account for the cost of back-up power—typically from natural gas—that has to be on standby when renewables aren’t generating electricity, which is about three-quarters of the time. Another factor not considered in older studies is the giant expense of transmission lines that bring the electricity from rural areas to the cities where it’s needed. And finally, previous studies ignored the fact that additional wind and solar leads to premature retirement of baseload power plants, which has can lead to higher costs for some ratepayers. 

Does it surprise you that these obvious costs were somehow overlooked so the public could be told that the benign-sounding Renewable Portfolio Standard program wouldn’t cost all that much?

A lot of states… especially big blue ones… are intent on spending their citizen’s money on RPS mandates. By 2030 Massachusetts will require 41 percent of its electricity to come from renewables. California is mandating 50 percent and not to be outdone, New York is in for 60 percent. And these percentages will almost certainly grow in the future as states try to out green each other.

Apparently, the message about the high costs of RPS programs hasn’t gotten out to the people who actually pay the bills. The Energy Policy Institute’s study examined the price of electricity before and after RPS programs were put into place. What it found was an increase of 11 percent in 7 years and 17 percent 12 years after implementation which is what translates into that $30 billion dollars of extra spending by consumers each year. 

For people with lower and middle incomes, this is no small matter because they can’t avoid the bigger bills. Higher electricity costs take a larger percentage of the paycheck they take home each week.

In spite of the financial pinch on poorer people some folks still believe the much higher prices are still worth it because more wind turbines and solar panels are going to lessen the threat of climate change. But… like a lot of what people have been told about energy and climate… that idea is a giant myth. But it gets worse. The University of Chicago study demonstrates that attempting to lower carbon dioxide levels through Renewable Portfolio Standards is by far the most expensive way to do it.

I’ll talk about that in Part 2 of our series on the RPS Scam.

For the Clear Energy Alliance, I’m Mark Mathis. Power On.

View Sources

Do Renewable Portfolio Standards Deliver? Downloadable Study, Energy Policy Institute, University of Chicago
https://epic.uchicago.edu/research/publications/do-renewable-portfolio-standards-deliver

Do Renewable Portfolio Standards Deliver? Research Summary Energy Policy Institute, University of Chicago

https://epic.uchicago.edu/sites/default/files/UCH-042219_GreenstoneRPS_0_0.pdf

Do Renewable Portfolio Standards Deliver? Working Abstract, Energy Policy Institute, University of Chicago

https://bfi.uchicago.edu/wp-content/uploads/BFIEPIC_WP_201962_v3.pdf

States with RPS including those with a voluntary RPS

http://www.ncsl.org/research/energy/renewable-portfolio-standards.aspx

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