Renewable Portfolio Standard Scam (Part 2)

Politicians and activists keep coming up with all sorts of ideas to make the energy sources you rely on most – oil, natural gas, and coal – more expensive. There are various versions of a carbon tax and complicated cap and trade schemes. And, most states have adopted Renewable Portfolio Standards, which essentially achieve the same goal.

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Politicians and activists keep coming up with all sorts of ideas to make the energy sources you rely on most… oil, natural gas, and coal… more expensive. There are various versions of a carbon tax and complicated cap and trade schemes. And, most states have adopted Renewable Portfolio Standards, which essentially achieve the same goal. 

People are pretty suspicious of Carbon Taxes and Cap and Trade programs because they understand it’s just politicians figuring out creative ways to get into our pockets. But governments have been more successful with Renewable Portfolio Standards because the name sounds like a good idea. More wind and solar must translate into much lower volumes of greenhouse gas emissions, which will lessen the threat of climate change, right? Actually, no.

In what is being billed as the most exhaustive study compiled to date, the University of Chicago’s Energy Policy Institute discovered that sneakily adding wind and solar power through the little-discussed Renewable Portfolio Standards did reduce the states’ carbon intensity… a little bit. You have to look at the graph real hard to see the ever so slight reduction. Does it matter? Of course not. The United States could stop producing all carbon dioxide immediately and the impact on the world’s climate would be negligible. 

But that’s not the worst part. You see, this meaningless reduction in carbon dioxide output comes with a big price tag. The University of Chicago study found that the cost of reducing emissions through an RPS policy is more than $130 per ton and in some cases, it’s as high as $460 per ton. Compare that to the Cap and Trade scheme in the northeastern U.S., which values abated carbon dioxide at only $5 a ton. California prices it at just $15 bucks.

The authors of this study conclude that the Renewable Portfolio Standards adopted by 29 states are a bad deal for citizens. As we saw in Part One, states with RPS programs have watched electric rates rise by 17 percent in just 12 years. The Energy Policy Institute’s study provides evidence that if the government is going to take your money to reduce carbon dioxide emissions that carbon taxes and cap and trade systems do the job at a much lower cost.

I cringe even saying that because we at the Clear Energy Alliance are against any pricing of carbon dioxide emissions because we’re convinced it’s all cost and no benefit no matter how you do it, but the RPS is the worst pricing scheme of them all. We shouldn’t be spending billions of dollars to make wind and solar companies rich while making minuscule reductions in a naturally occurring atmospheric gas that will have no impact on the climate.

We think citizens should keep as much of their hard-earned money as possible and the money that is taken from us by our government should be wisely spent on stuff that actually makes our lives better.

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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