Over the last forty years, California politicians have developed a fetish for environmental causes. Sadly, with little or no concern for the costs or actual benefits of radical green initiatives, liberal-progressives continue to embed unsustainable costs in all services, products, fuels, land uses and daily activities in the sanctimonious belief that all environmental issues are existential threats. Litigious, fear mongering eco-groups have brainwashed legions of followers to allow the most irrational (and often purely politically symbolic) enviro-theories to become job-killing regulatory mandates. And, there is a predictable progressive dishonesty revealed in the shifting names of green causes when discredited by evolving science -- “global warming” became “climate change” which has become “extreme weather.”
California energy providers and markets have moved precipitously toward renewable energies such as wind and solar due to state and federal mandates and subsidies. A recent report by the non-partisan Pacific Research Institute (PRI) examines the additional costs imposed by a state mandate that requires one-third of California’s electric power to come from renewable energy sources like wind, solar and geothermal by 2020. PRI estimates that this California "Renewable Power Standard" will cost an additional $5 billion by 2020.
According to PRI:
• The renewable mandate represents a new 27% tax on power generation in the state due to the forced substitution of expensive renewables power in place of cheaper electricity, particularly in terms of transmission, backup, and generation costs;
• The embedded tax to be imposed upon the California economy will grow each year as the size of the electricity market expands and the RPS requirement forces ever-greater amounts of high-cost power onto the market;
• The costs to California electric power consumers by 2020 will rise by more than 13% as a result of the renewables mandate;
• The aggregate effect of these regulations will cause power rates and costs to rise nearly 33 percent between now and 2020, according to the PRI report;
• PRI notes that even without the RPS, state power rates would rise by nearly 20% due to various capital investments driven by both economic and regulatory factors, including those due to the state’s go-it-alone carbon cap-and-trade program.
The history of renewable mandates in the E.U. should be a caution to Californians. Europe’s heavy industries have been hard hit by rising energy prices due to the E.U.’s climate policies which came with their myopic adoption of the Kyoto Protocols in 2005. A particular concern of energy-intensive industries like steel and chemicals is that E.U. policies on climate and energy have seen electricity suppliers passing on price increases to them. Energy prices rose 28% between 2003 and 2011. This while the E.U.’s carbon cap-and-trade climate emissions market has fallen to a two-year low. As record winter snows cover the northern hemisphere, European renewable energy has become so expensive and unreliable that record U.S. exports of coal are now going to power Europe. (The Global Warming Policy Foundation, Jan. 25, 2013)
Green obsessions have driven California (and Europe) to spend on reflex, rather than economic reality. California enviros are a reckless partisan political special interest, and are as militant and destructive as the labor unions that have spent the state into endless budget deficits.
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