Category — Renewable Energy Fallacies
[Ed. note: On August 27, 1997, the Cato Institute published Policy Analysis #280, which criticized the government push to subsidize politically correct renewable energy, particularly solar and windpower. Today and tomorrow, different authors revisit what was the free-market-movement's first full-scale rebuttal, on economic and environmental grounds, to so-called "green" energy policy .]
“The policy implication of [a thorough examination of renewable technologies] is, stop throwing good money after bad. All renewable energy subsidies from all levels of government should cease.”
Such is the conclusion voiced today by a rising chorus of energy experts, economists, even politicians, after many years of failed renewables projects and more expensive utility bills in the growing shadow of a $16 trillion national debt ($140,000 per taxpayer). But, remarkably, fifteen years have passed since Rob Bradley crafted this statement for the Cato Institute as the bottom line of his comprehensive six-part policy alarum, Renewable Energy: Not Cheap, Not ‘Green’‘
An Opening Shot
Few knew about or shared Bradley’s concerns at the time. Even more remarkably, his analysis was at odds with the policy direction of his employer, Enron, as Ken Lay’s political capitalism began promoting renewable investment as sustainable tax shelters.
By taking his concerns public, even as a scholar, Bradley risked much as Enron’s director of public policy analysis. Sparks flew as executives within Enron Wind Corporation digested Bradley’s external work (see these internal memos).
Bradley’s one-person stand also challenged the (Enron-directed) energy policies of Texas governor George W. Bush (and what would be the policies of his successor, Rick Perry). For Bradley, there was indeed a problem in Houston…. [Read more →]
August 27, 2012 6 Comments
“Let’s stop politicalizing our electricity supply. Let’s eliminate all tax credits for energy production. Let’s require that utility scale generators produce firm, dispatchable capacity, and eliminate those that don’t.
Let’s demand that electricity grids and their regulators provide abundant highly reliable and secure electricity consistent with the most informed notions of public health. Abundant electricity will offer consumers real choice, resulting in lower prices and increased value.”
The most recent effort by those seeking profit from “green energy” evidently presumes that rate and taxpayers, if not most of the country’s citizenry, were born yesterday. Which made me think of Billie Dawn’s wicked malaprop in the movie classic, Born Yesterday: “This country and its institutions belong to the people who inhibit it.”
Few initiatives better illustrate how the nation’s future is being seized by those who would inhibit it than last week’s plea to “stop politicizing green energy.” In the best black/white Owellian tradition, a rump organization calling itself the US Partnership for Renewable Energy Finance, or US PREF (Google search finds little), claims that renewables are being demonized by wrong-thinking politicians at the expense of the country’s progressive future.
Feigning disinterest, the group offers a number of white papers purporting to show “how crucial renewable energy is as part of the nation’s overall energy mix,” “dramatically” reducing energy costs, bolstering national security, improving the environment, and producing long term jobs. US PREF lauded the role of long-standing Congressional production and energy tax credits as they work together with large scale state renewable energy portfolio laws to increase mainly wind and solar installations throughout the land.
These reports come to demonstrably wrong conclusions. In fact, US PREF’s premise is oxymoronic, given that wind and solar exist almost solely because the electricity sector has become highly politicized over the last thirty years, a process abetted by
- careless journalists;
- irresponsible economists;
- captured regulators;
- engineers more interested in make work than they are in maintaining the highest standards of their profession; and
- profiteering investment groups, including Morgan Stanley, Goldman Sachs, Citibank Credit Suisse, and virtually all of the Big Energy corporations. [Read more →]
July 2, 2012 10 Comments