Can Renewable Energy Compete?

I just got in an argument with someone who said that renewable energy should just compete in a free market like every other industry and stop getting government and state subsidies. I wanted to disagree with him, but I didn’t have the facts. John Z Denver, Colorado.

John, The good ole’ USA subsidizes its conventional energy issues more than any other industrialized country, so there is no “free market”. Some examples of these subsidies are: oil and gas depletion allowances, intangible drilling costs, special treatments for coal royalties, tax waivers for companies with overseas refineries, and federal appropriations for black/brown lung benefits for coal miners. There are many other subsidies, and they all total billions of dollars per year. In the recent Jobs Bill passed by Congress and signed by President George Bush in October, the US taxpayer provided multi-billion dollar subsidies to a private consortium for a natural gas pipeline from Canada, and a subsidy for refined coal, which was listed under the renewable energy section for some reason. In comparison, renewables receive much less at under $100 million per year in subsidies. The concept of a fair and free market would apply to renewable energy if the government subsidies for conventional energy are dropped, and the barriers that limit distributed energy access to the electric grid are removed at both the transmission and distribution levels. But don’t hold your breath that the politicians will do that in my, or my daughter Stella’s, lifetime. Scott
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Scott, founder and president of The Stella Group, Ltd., in Washington, DC, is the Chair of the Steering Committee of the Sustainable Energy Coalition and serves on the Business Council for Sustainable Energy, and The Solar Foundation. The Stella Group, Ltd., a strategic marketing and policy firm for clean distributed energy users and companies using renewable energy, energy efficiency and storage. Sklar is an Adjunct Professor at The George Washington University teaching two unique interdisciplinary courses on sustainable energy, and is an Affiliated Professor of CATIE, the graduate university based in Costa Rica. . On June 19, 2014, Scott Sklar was awarded the prestigious The Charles Greely Abbot Award by the American Solar Energy Society (ASES) and on April 26, 2014 was awarded the Green Patriot Award by George Mason University in Virginia.

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