by H. Sterling Burnett
Voters in Arizona, Nevada and Washington state will soon decide if they want to pay more for less reliable electricity.
Progressive California billionaire Tom Steyer is trying to take
California’s energy policies on the road. California energy prices are
among the highest in the country, and Golden State residents suffer more
non-disaster-related blackouts and brownouts than any other state. In a
vain effort to control the weather 100 years into the future,
California has adopted policies that restrict fossil-fuel use and
severely limit residents’ energy choices. The result: high energy prices
and unreliable electricity that works only when the sun and wind
At a time when residents and businesses are fleeing California to
seek more affordable energy and homes, California is now trying to
export its misguided energy policies beyond its borders.
This November, voters in Arizona and Nevada will consider ballot
proposals that would mandate an increase in the proportion of
electricity generated from renewable power sources to 50 percent by
2030. Both measures are bankrolled by Steyer.
Additionally, Washington state voters, for the second time in three
years, will consider a ballot initiative to impose the nation’s first
tax on carbon-dioxide emissions.
The plain truth is, if voters approve these initiatives they will be
paying higher prices for energy with little or no environmental benefit.
Numerous studies have revealed that states with renewable energy
mandates have experienced increased energy prices. The Brookings
Institution found replacing conventional power with wind power raises
electricity prices by 50 percent. Even worse, replacing conventional
power with solar power triples electricity costs. In short, the higher
the mandate, the higher the costs.
Europe is further along the renewable energy path than the United
States, and the results are telling. Despite a 25 percent increase in
wind power and 6 percent growth in solar over the past decade, carbon
emissions actually increased in 2017, by 1.8 percent, due to the fact
that “idling fossil fuel plants must be quickly brought online when the
wind doesn’t blow and the sun doesn’t shine, and, just like cars in
traffic, idling engines produce more carbon emissions,” as reported by
Nevada’s Sparks Tribune. Meanwhile, electricity costs across the
European Union have increased by 23 percent during the past decade.
The same is true in the United States. Under its current renewable
power mandate, Arizona produces 7 percent of its energy from wind and
solar, an amount required to increase to 15 percent by 2025. The Energy
Information Administration reports that meeting the current 7 percent
requirement has already added $304 a year to the average Arizonan’s
electric bill — meeting the 50 percent standard proposed in Steyer’s
ballot initiative could cost Arizona residents an additional $2,100
The results are the same for Nevada. Over the last five years, the
average Nevadan saw his or her electric bill rise by 11 percent, despite
that nationally rates fell on average by 1 percent — and declined even
more in states without green-energy mandates. This is due in part to
Nevada’s existing renewable energy mandate.
A 2013 study commissioned by the Nevada Policy Research Institute
showed that simply meeting the current requirement (utilities get 25
percent of the electric power they supply by 2025) would likely raise
power prices by an additional 11 percent. This would also cost the state
more than 3,000 jobs. Requiring 50 percent renewable energy just five
years later, after the low hanging “inexpensive” power switching as
already been accomplished, will make rates and job losses skyrocket even
Washington state’s carbon-dioxide tax would impose a penalty of $15
per metric ton on carbon-dioxide emissions, rising $2 per ton annually
until the state meets its goal of reducing emissions 50 percent below
1990 levels. Evergreen State auditors found residents would pay
approximately $2.2 billion more in taxes during its first five years of
implementation, with gasoline prices likely to rise by 13 cents per
gallon and the costs of home-heating oil likely to rise by 15 cents per
gallon in 2020, the year the tax would take effect.
The higher energy prices and increased energy instability will be for
naught with regards to preventing global warming. The United States is
already reducing its emissions without such draconian policies, but even
if it weren’t, nothing done in the United States can prevent a global
rise in emissions because developing countries are adding huge amounts
of carbon dioxide into the atmosphere as they industrialize.
Only the IRS, politicians and climate fanatics could love these
high-cost, no-return ballot initiatives. Let’s hope Arizona, Nevada and
Washington state residents see through the green smokescreen the ballot
initiatives’ advocates are emitting.