ATLANTA – The Atlanta Journal Constitution’s Politifact Georgia released a “Half True” grade today on our recent claim that renewable energy mandates in Georgia could cause electricity bills to rise up to 40% on the average consumer, as stated in a 191-page Institute for Energy Research study of states currently imposing a renewable portfolio standard or mandate. [Read the Politifact article here]. A separate December report by the U.S. Energy Information Administration shows the average price for operating solar plants that will be active by 2018 will be higher than the costs for coal, natural gas and wind.
PSC member Doug Everett and solar advocates like Debbie Dooley, the GA chapter director of Tea Party Patriots, have said that the costs on solar have come down dramatically since 2009.
As the AJC admitted in their own statement, the reason for the cost reduction in solar energy production is due, largely, to global oversupply and taxpayer funded investment by the federal government in solar research and development that has served to lower prices in the short term. It is our belief that this is a severe understatement. According to a CFACT article published originally in Forbes Online on July 7, the federal government has heavily subsidized renewable energy projects with over $14 billion dollars since 2009, effectively offsetting the costs of producing solar energy.
Despite the enormous renewable energy project subsidies by the federal government to drive down the cost of producing these alternative energy sources, 3 more solar energy companies filed for bankruptcy in the past week alone. This calls into question the market-readiness of widespread renewable energy and the need to avoid mandates on these or any energy technologies.
The $14 billion dollars in renewable energy project investments runs in contrast to the $4 billion dollars in taxpayer “subsidies” that are invested in oil companies every year. (President Obama claimed this $4 billion dollar figure while speaking at the Nashua Community College in New Hampshire on March 1, 2012). And according to oil-related subsidy data published in a 2010 joint OECD-IEA report titled “Fossil Fuel Subsidies and Other Support,” over $1 billion of the sum was to the Strategic Petroleum Reserve which is provided to protect the U.S. from oil shortages.
AFP-GA State Director Virginia Galloway says, “We applaud the Atlanta Journal Constitution for tackling such a complex issue in a reasonably balanced way; however, we submit that government subsidies or mandates for any form of energy production are an inappropriate government intrusion into the private sector. Mandates and the associated historical pattern of higher electricity costs could also hurt Georgia in terms of economic development. What I’d like the PSC to do is to help GA Power plan to generate power in the most efficient, most reliable way possible. The government should not be placing mandates or unreasonable restrictions that hurt taxpayers, rate payers, and the Georgia economy.”
In the final analysis, the AJC says that our claim is only “half true” because solar energy costs have gone down significantly since the data was first made available showing the average cost of energy being 39-40% higher in states with a renewable energy mandate. That doesn’t change the fact that they have been higher, over time, in those states than in states without a renewable energy mandate. And much of the reason renewable energy is becoming more attractive and appearing more successful in the intermediate is due to massive federal government intervention in the form of taxpayer-funded grant subsidies and exemptions. Bottom line: Georgia needs reliable, efficient electricity production, not further reliance upon the ever changing subsidies out of Washington, DC.