Blogs, Energy Efficiency

Renewable energy to blame for high energy costs? Politico op-ed sparks debate

Grover Norquist, president of Americans for Tax Reform, and Patrick Gleason, director of state affairs for the same organization, published an opinion piece this week on Politico about a potential national renewable energy standard (RES).

The Politico piece, titled “Rethink renewable energy mandates,” stated that a national renewable energy standard would “drive up electricity bills for families, increase costs for employers and destroy jobs.” Americans for Tax Reform is calling upon the 29 states that currently have clean energy mandates to repeal them. In their opinion, this would “reduce costs for employers and promote economic growth.”

Norquist and Gleason assert that existing renewable energy standards around the country are expensive for taxpayers and damaging to economic recovery. According to the article, “States that have a binding RES now have electricity costs that are 39 percent higher than states that don’t have a binding RES.”

Already, the internet is countering the Politico piece and attacking the Americans for Tax Reform mission.

Stephen Lacey and Richard Caperton, over on Joe Romm’s blog Climate Progress, vehemently refuted the information presented by Norquist and Gleason. They claim that the percentage quoted by thePolitico piece is misleading, arguing that the states with RES’s had higher electric prices before the energy mandates were even enacted.

Quoting statistics from the U.S. Energy Information Administration, the Climate Progress article admitted that states with RES’s did show a bigger swing in electricity rates, but concluded that a renewable energy standard alone wasn’t enough to account for a large variation.

Many other factors were at play in those states. Maryland for example, coming in right after Hawaii in 2010′s report as the state experiencing the biggest increase in electricity rates, underwent controversial energy deregulation. That accounts for a large portion of that state’s increase.

Politico‘s op-ed claims that Democrats on Capitol Hill are queuing up in support of a national RES although it has not yet become a key issue among presidential candidates.  Still, it’s a timely discussion as the year closes and taxpayers move into a year full of political decision-making.