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Renewable Portfolio Standards

May 6, 2011

Renewable Portfolio Standards, also known as Renewable Energy Standards, force families, businesses and industry to buy expensive electricity.

Why else would General Electric Company build a $600 million dollar plant to manufacture a product that few would buy in a free market?

Photo-voltaic solar produces electricity at a cost of between 20 cents and 28 cents per kilowatt hour, which is several times the cost of generating electricity from natural gas or coal.

In a free market most people would never buy this expensive electricity and would opt, instead, to buy less expensive electricity.

The problem is that Renewable Portfolio Standards (RPS) require that a minimum amount of electricity sold in a state come from renewable sources, such as wind and solar.

Approximately 27 states have these standards. According to the EIA, they range from 8% by 2020 for Pennsylvania, to 40% by 2017 for Maine. California recently adopted an RPS of 33%, where 33% of electricity sold in California must come from renewables by 2030.

Congress has also proposed a national Renewable Energy Standard of around 25%. This has been pushed by Senator Bingaman (D, AZ) who has said, “I have long supported a Renewable Electricity Standard.”

A national standard, such as proposed by Senator Bingaman, would require that a minimum of 25% of the electricity sold in a state be from renewable sources, such as solar and wind.

It’s interesting to speculate why GE would promote expensive electricity when it’s not in the best interests of families, businesses and industry. Would these GE customers be leery of buying GE products when they learn that GE is promoting a requirement for them to pay more for their electricity?

Now, the question has been raised in Colorado whether these standards are constitutional, where a complaint has been filed in federal court. The complaint states, “[RPS] discriminates – by mandating the purchase and use of renewables – against other legal, less costly, less polluting, safer and more reliable in-state and out-of-state sources of electricity.”

With the failure of cap & trade in Congress, and the likelihood that a price won’t soon be set on carbon, global warming advocates have seen Renewable Portfolio Standards as a back-door method for cutting CO2 emissions. These standards have received little scrutiny from the public and have been enacted by state legislatures without much publicity.

These standards, together with having the EPA regulate CO2 emissions, are now the main thrust of organizations that want to cut America’s CO2 emissions 80% by 2050.


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Note to First Time Viewers

As a new reader, you are probably wondering why I am writing these articles, as well as whether I am qualified to write them.

My motivation is simple: We are faced with a decision. Either we will develop low-cost, abundant energy that is conducive to economic growth, or we will choose high-cost energy that will inhibit economic growth in order to cut CO2 emissions.

These articles are designed to provide people with factual information about energy issues so they are better prepared to make this decision. Collectively, we will make this decision by selecting leaders for our communities and government who will enact the laws and regulations that will either promote low-cost, abundant energy, or, instead, insist on costly energy to cut CO2 emissions.

This information should also help when judging other government actions affecting energy policy.

These articles purposely differentiate between oil and electricity. While, in a fundamental sense all energy is interchangeable, a BTU is a BTU etc., we actually have two separate delivery systems. These systems are like two, isolated silos, with virtually no interconnection.

One system is for generating and distributing electricity, the other is for producing and using oil for transportation.

This is an important distinction, since actions, such as using wind to generate electricity, do not currently affect our supply or use of oil. Conversely, only 1% of our electricity is generated using oil, and much of this is in Hawaii where there are few options.

As for my background, click “about” for a brief CV.

If you are concerned about energy policy, please copy this link and email it to your friends and family.

4 Comments leave one →
  1. May 6, 2011 2:33 pm

    In Georgia, some representative from Germany lobbied the Georgia state legislature in favor of RPS this spring. Fortunately she got nowhere as explained below.

    Germany has either 10 percent of their generating capacity or 10 percent of their electricity come from renewables. I think it is the former because it would require 50 percent of your generating capcity to be from renewables if you had 10 percent of your electricity come from renewables. The cost of electricity in Germany is 32 cents per kw-hr, more than triple what we pay in Georgia

  2. May 14, 2011 4:16 pm

    You can’t get a truthful answer on the real cost of renewable energy sources. No one factors in these sources have to have standby generating capacity that is able to immediately come on line when the renewable sources falters due to a cloud, rain storm, nightime, or wind stop blowing. These sources can be gas turbines that are inefficient and thus have high fuel expenses. Other costs are renewable sources are frequentlly located in places no one wwnts to live and you have to construct 100 of miles of transmission lines to bring power from remote areas to the public

    I think it can be easily shown renewable sources are at least 5 times and most likely ten times or more expensive than conventional coal or natural gas sources of electricity. Only fools and politicians that are easily bought off would advocate RPS.

    James Rust

  3. Eff Yoo permalink
    May 15, 2011 12:15 pm

    Fortunately, you idiots won’t be around to enjoy the havok and destruction you are creating by making hot love to oil and coal…

    • May 16, 2011 11:31 am

      I look forward to receiving comments, however, I think it’s better when responders provide some facts to support their viewpoint.

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