Green Energy Costs YOUR Green

by Steve Dana

I saw another headline this morning for a failing Green Energy company backed by federal loan guarantees.  Like the now famous (and defunct) Solyndra solar panel manufacturer that soaked the Department of Energy for $500 million, Abound Solar only actually got $70 million of the $400 million in their guarantee before they went TU.

My question is this, “Are there any Green Energy manufacturing jobs that pencil out?”  The President seems to be batting a thousand with his Green Energy failures and that can’t be good for the industry.  I have to believe that there are businesses actually developing products that make sense while also meeting Green Energy standards but I’m having difficulty finding them.

In order to quiet his critics on this Green Energy problem, the President and his Department of Energy maven, Steven Chu should release a list of the successful businesses they’ve funded so the naysayers will go away.

I didn’t turn over too many rocks in my search, but Googling “Green Energy Success Stories” didn’t turn up any.  It seems that all the news is bad.

Alternative energy sources that qualify under the Green Energy guidelines are generally thought of as solar, wind and maybe geothermal with a little dabbling in tidal energy potential and ocean wave energy.

There is no doubt that the sun shines a lot and the wind blows a lot but when you compare the cost of extracting that energy on a BTU basis there is no way they can compete with conventional sources of energy.

When President Obama was a candidate in 2008 he told us about his plan and how it would affect us all.  He said “by necessity, energy costs will have to rise.”  I doubt you would have expected gasoline prices to double or triple in four years or to see the market price for electricity increase to twelve or fifteen cents per KWH when we’ve customarily paid six cents.

Most of us would be happy if a source of energy were available that heated our homes, operated our businesses and fueled our cars cheaply while meeting ever increasingly stringent government regulations but with the technology available today, that is just not possible.

As consumers, we need to decide what our priority is; affordable energy supplied by American coal, American hydro-electric, American nuclear and American oil or expensive “alternative” energy driven up by mindless government regulation.

This consumer is in favor of a “best management practices” approach.  If we agree we want to pursue all options but in order to keep prices lower to minimize financial impacts to families we favor coal, oil, nuclear and hydro as the preferred sources and apply cost/benefit analysis to regulations to see if the benefits justify the cost increase then we can move ahead sensibly.

The government regulators today give no consideration to fiscal impacts when they propose new regulation.

When I was an elected official many years ago, I proposed to my city council that along with all the normal mumbo jumbo fed to us in agenda bills there be a modest fiscal impact analysis so as we contemplated the merits of a piece of legislation we could also understand if it created a financial burden upon one party or another.  Staff was not in favor and ended up defeating my proposal because it created too much of a burden on what was said to be an already over-worked staff.

Regardless of what we are told, every piece of legislation passed by every government body carries with it a financial burden.  In the case of my proposal, the burden would be borne by city staff to the benefit of the public.  Shot down!  In cases where the burden is shifted to non-voters or numerically small impact group members, all the better since they can’t kick me out of office.  In cases where the burden ends up being just another layer of government regulation creating taxes or fees paid by everyday citizens, the message sold is that it’s for the “greater good.”  It had to be done!

Elected officials like to pass legislation but they don’t like to take responsibility for the financial impacts to their constituents.  If there is a compelling reason to pass a new law, at least determine who will be expected to pay for it and whether it’s fair for them to be hung with the bill.

The alternative energy supporters would have us believe that if we don’t do something radical right now the world will come to an end.  Level headed thinkers agree that we should be making efforts to minimize environmental impacts of existing energy sources but not at the expense of the industry.  When the government prevents the private sector from mining coal at all, the country suffers a catastrophic increase in the cost of energy and the loss of jobs.  When the government prevents the drilling for oil or building of refineries the country suffers a catastrophic increase in the cost of energy and the loss of jobs.

If the government gave you the choice between the electric power rates of 5 cents per kilowatt hour or 12 cents per kilowatt hour which one would you choose?

Or if the choice was gasoline for $2.00 per gallon or $5.00 per gallon which one would you choose?

Those are choices that have already been made for you by your elected officials and a lot more unelected bureaucrats/regulators.  They have chosen the more expensive options because someone decided it was okay for all of us to get hammered to benefit narrowly defined interest groups.

If you were given the choice of saving the spotted owl or having less expensive building materials which one would you prefer?

Alternatives always come at a cost and the government needs to take into consideration the hidden taxes they levy when they drive up the cost of commodities by implementing marginally effective government regulations.

The President and the Green Movement are so desperate for their agenda they are taxing our whole country to death to achieve it.

The reason the Green Energy companies fail is because they don’t produce a competitive product.  The demand for their product is driven by government mandate and not the fact that it makes sense to the average consumer.

Develop a fuel cell that can replace the gasoline engine in my car for the same selling price and competitive fuel rates and I’m there.  Until then, throwing government money at a loser of an idea is a loser of an idea.

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