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Bubba's Boondoggle Will Hurt Georgia - By Virginia Galloway

July 05, 2013 J

Electricity in Georgia is currently the most expensive in the South at 9.08 cents per kilowatt-hour.

Just as President Obama signals a renewal of his war on consumers by attacking the coal industry, Public Service Commissioner Bubba McDonald is trying to get the Public Service Commission to intervene with energy mandates here in Georgia.

If Bubba has his way, your electricity bill could increase by as much as 40 percent. That’s because McDonald is pushing an amendment to Georgia Power’s comprehensive plan that calls for a solar energy mandate for Georgia.

Although McDonald avoids the phrase, this mandate is a renewable portfolio standard — a controversial policy in 29 states that correlates highly with a hike in the price of energy and kill jobs.

Renewable portfolio standards (RPS) require utility companies to generate a certain percentage or amount of their energy from green energy sources by a specific date.

But since the sun doesn’t shine all day, green energy sources like solar panels have historically been less reliable than natural resources like coal or gas. In fact, many states like California regularly experience blackouts thanks to their RPS.

So, to ensure that electricity is provided to their citizens, RPS states must invest in expensive backup energy sources in case of insufficient green energy generation.

It’s likely no coincidence that the price of electricity in states with an RPS in place is 40 percent higher than in states without them, as the Institute for Energy Research reports.

Since the green fuels must be backed up by reliable traditional fuels, many of the touted environmental benefits attributed to RPS are negligible.

For proof of RPS’ high price, Georgians need to look no further than our neighbor, North Carolina.

Currently, the Tar Heel State has an RPS in place that requires utility companies to have a portfolio of 12.5 percent renewable energy by 2021. As a result, one academic study by the Beacon Hill Institute at Suffolk University estimates that the RPS will increase electricity costs by $1.8 billion and result in the loss of 3,500 jobs by 2021.

Indeed, RPS’ high costs have major spillover effects onto other sectors of the economy. Every individual and business consumes electricity. An increased price of energy translates to an increased price of food, clothing, gas and taxes.

High costs certainly affect the job creators, too. With all the progress Georgia has made attracting manufacturing companies to provide jobs, it defies logic to adopt RPS now.

During these tough economic times, Georgians cannot afford RPS’ economic drain train to make its next stop in our state.

The same forces at work in the PSC are also asking the Georgia Legislature to join the fray. As introduced last March, House Bill 657 would create a statewide solar electricity provider and grant it a legal monopoly in Georgia.

As if expanding government intrusion in the energy sector isn’t bad enough, the bill would also require utility companies to purchase a percentage of energy from the newly minted monopoly.

Notably, the only Public Service Commissioner to sign onto the bill thus far is Bubba McDonald.

Make no mistake about it, there’s nothing wrong with solar energy in and of itself. Utility companies should have the freedom to choose what energy sources to add to their portfolio that will serve their customers efficiently for a reasonable price.

But such decisions should be made carefully, not forced from the top down by politicians like Obama and McDonald.

For the sake of prosperity in Georgia, the Public Service Commission should reject this mandate.

This article was originally featured on Savannah Now at this link.

Virginia Galloway is the state director of Americans for Prosperity-Georgia.

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