Green Power

Advocates of so-called “green power” are comically utopian in their belief that America’s economy can be fueled almost entirely by wind, solar, and biomass.

Fossil fuels, they say, can be quickly and easily replaced by renewable energy. “Renewable energy technology has advanced commercially to the point where it is now ready for wide-scale development,” according to energy analysts with the extremist U.S. Public Interest Research Group (US PIRG).

Though the economics of green power are prohibitively costly for utilities (which means, of course, higher bills for consumers), US PIRG thinks otherwise: “Renewable energy also is the best economic choice. Increasing investment in renewable energy and energy efficiency programs will boost local economies and save consumers money.”

Ergo, Congress should mandate a renewable portfolio standard, in which 20 percent of U.S. power generation would come from green sources. This policy prescription is not idiosyncratic, but widely shared within the environmental community.

FACT: US PIRG’s utopia is contradicted by experience.

Consider the Board of Water and Light (BWL) in Lansing, Michigan, which began buying green power two years ago. Under a new program, customers could get half of their power from green sources, but at an extra cost of $7.50 a month.

The result? Only 700 of the company’s 100,000 customers signed up for it.

In a Nov. 3 story titled “Utilities Struggle to Sell Green Power,” the Great Lakes Radio Consortium reported, “Rate payers have shown they’re not that interested in buying green power. Lansing Board of Water and Light officials…say unless more people become willing to pay for cleaner energy, they likely won’t expand the program any further.”

Joe Nipper of the American Public Power Association pithily explained the lack of enthusiasm this way: “For many folks the power bill is a significant part of their bills every month and they watch that closely.”

But the utopians don’t care about such mundane concerns. As the Great Lakes Radio Consortium reported, “David Gard of the Michigan Environmental Council says instead of a voluntary program, all customers should share the cost of green power.”