Posted by: Donna
I promised a post after the primary rebutting Robert Robb’s August 25th AZ Republic column where he disparaged renewable energy.
Obama has pursued policies that would drive up electricity prices. These include subsidies for higher-cost, less-efficient sources, such as solar and wind. And policies, such as cap-and-trade and keeping federal lands off-limits to development for oil and natural gas, that disadvantage cheaper, more reliable traditional sources.
There’s no evidence that pursuing renewable energy raises energy rates to an appreciable degree. Lawrence Berkeley National Lab concluded in 2008 that states with RES experienced a 1% rate impact.
The electricity rate increases associated with existing state RES policies, for those states in which such impacts are readily calculable, generally equal 1% or less so far; in several states, the renewable electricity required by these policies appears to be priced competitively with fossil generation.
Furthermore, there’s a far lower external cost associated with renewable energy production: no coal ash, acid rain, nuclear waste, respiratory health problems, etc. Solar doesn’t require expensive pipelines, railroads, emission controls, and a lot of water either. Nor does it require fuel. Coal, natural gas, and uranium account for 30% of rates and most of that money goes to the other states we purchase them from.
Back to Robb:
But whoever is elected to the Arizona Corporation Commission will have zero influence on these national policies. Burns, Stump and Bitter Smith will have no greater ability to stop Obama’s energy policies if they are elected than if they are not.
But here’s what’s really curious. In Arizona, it has been Republicans leading the way on subsidies for higher-cost, less-efficient solar and wind power.
Bzzzzt! To the contrary, under the leadership of Commissioners Gary Pierce and Brenda Burns solar rebates have been slashed 90%, from $3 per watt to 30 cents per watt. It has really put a damper on Arizona’s burgeoning solar industry, thus demonstrating the stunning economic ineptitude of Republicans yet again. The Commission also cut $19M from the Renewable Energy Standard for 2012, resulting in a massive monthly savings of 20 cents per customer. Robb should really be ecstatic about what they’re doing, since Republicans are doing exactly what he thinks they should be doing – cutting renewable energy investments while favoring traditional sources. I suppose he won’t be happy until all subsidies for commie hippie solar energy (which is hugely popular here) are gone and every bit of public land is open to his beloved drilling and fracking.
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