What are the enviros afraid of?

Environmentalists are a funny bunch. They often claim the mantle of popular opinion, but rarely do they talk about the costs and the real-world tradeoffs associated with government policies aimed at forcing us all to be “green” (at least according to their definition). They also talk a lot about transparency (at least when it comes to their opponents).

But, the moment someone tries to illustrate that “green” policies cost consumers more, they cry foul. The case of PNM’s proposal to put a line item on their electric bills showing that consumers are being forced to pay more for electricity generated by wind and solar generated howling opposition from Steve Michel, chief counsel for Western Resource Advocates who said, “Line-item treatment of renewable energy on bills creates a target for customer dissatisfaction.”

Duh! As the Rio Grande Foundation pointed out in its study of New Mexico’s Renewable Portfolio Standard, ratepayers in the state will be forced to pay an additional $2.3 billion for electricity over the period of 2011 to 2020. That number is back-loaded as the number ratchets up from a mere 10% renewables in 2011 to 20% renewables by 2020.

As Jonah Goldberg recently noted in his Albuquerque speech, utilities like PNM are the preferred model of today’s left. Government-imposed rules and regulations raise costs while ignorant consumers blame the company and free enterprise, not policymakers, for price hikes and shoddy service. If we are all going to pay more for our electricity, we should at least be told why.

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9 Replies to “What are the enviros afraid of?”

  1. Gotta love it, Paul!!! It has frustrated me no end that ignorant consumers blame PNM and free enterprise, instead of realizing that the total blame belongs on our NM legislature! I think this line-item idea on our electric bill is the best idea to come along in ages. Consumers should absolutely know what the price of wind and solar is costing them; that is, if anybody pays attention. Let Steve Michel howl all he wants. The radical enviros in this state have had their way far too long.

  2. One word: Transparency.

    Informed consumers make better decisions and this allow the market to function more effectively. Who knows: the cost differential might actually inspire a left-leaning innovator to bring the costs down so that more people can choose/afford to go green.

    I might pay a premium to purchase solar/wind energy, because I do care about the environment. But that’s my personal decision to make, and shouldn’t arrive in my bill via statist diktat.

  3. Yes they have had their repacious way too long. To them the costs of their various follies are irrelevent, as long as THEY don’t have to pay any of them. Typical hypocritical liberalism. End their influence with sunshine on the costs and non-benefits of their idiotic ideas.

  4. Once upon a time, the newfangled light bulb was pure folly, destined to cost more than burning gas in a fixture on the wall , or kerosene in a lamp. There was a time when spinning a turbine with coal combustion was an intruder on the status quo; called a folly by those whose investments in the status quo would be destroyed.

    PNM is walking a tightrope. For the near term it must convince the ratepayers that solar and wind are too expensive, hence the line item. Bravo! Do it. Let people know how efficiently PNM can deliver solar electrons. It is a tightrope because their line item will drive people to getting solar electrons much cheaper. Horrors! In sunny Albuquerque, PNM’s ratepayers will soon be able to take a walk. This will leave the commercial and government hyper-consumers of electricity to pay the full rate for delivered electrons. PNM cannot let that happen.

    The wailing and gnashing of teeth is about stranded assets (dead coal and nuke plants), not about over-regulation or nutty enviros. The filthy coal plants and continued creation of disasterous nuclear waste will go away because people will walk away and then commercial enterprise will leave. PNM just doesn’t want its shareholders damaged in the short view. They’re screwed in the long run.

    1. Perhaps. And, if solar and wind ever become as cheap and reliable as coal and gas, I’ll be thrilled (and so will the utilities). Obviously, however, those fixed costs need to be accounted for in the cost of each unit of electricity. Presumably this works in favor of wind and solar where the fixed costs would be lower.

      1. Individual rooftop solar will be always be cheaper and more efficient for a private party than for the investor owned utility to install and maintain. An individual cannot buy a miniature nuke plant to put in the backyard but he can buy a complete solar generator set with backup batteries. This cannot make the utility happy.

        We are on the edge of “grid parity,” where it is indeed cheaper to own your own electricity production equipment, than to rely on the centralized system.

        Today people would not even think of relying on a centralized computer to do everyday tasks (but there was a time when we did). Electricity generation is following the the same tech-led restructuring. PNM is not thrilled, because they cannot compete there.

        1. If this is indeed the case and we can all be independent of the heavily-regulated utility monopoly, I’ll be the first one in line. Talk about a libertarian utopia!

          My concern is that the sun doesn’t always shine and that battery capacity is limited. Even short-term electricity interruptions are a pain. Having electricity service even for short periods of time from the utility is a real cost-driver for them as those investments take real resources and cost lots of money.

          If good enough and cheap enough batteries become available to essentially guarantee electricity service for a price that is (in real terms, not including subsidies) lower than what their utility is charging, this will take off.

  5. We pay dearly for our 24/7 electricity.

    We depend breathlessly on low cost 24/7 electricity and yet it costs only 15 to 16 cents to run a hair dryer for an hour. How can that be? Our fossil fuel electrical system has insulated us from knowing the actual cost of 24/7 electricity.

    If we knew that cost, we would preserve or conserve electricity, using it for important things like running electric motors. Someday we will connect the dots between rampant fossil fuel pollution and the overall poor health of everyone. We will discover that 24/7 grid electricity is not cheap, just subsidized by the healthcare industry, who in turn gets their sustenance from employers, employees, and taxpayers. In the process cheap looking electricity has become an entitlement as all subsidies do.

    We need to ease our way off of cheap looking electricity. We need to build the hardware that allows each individual to produce his own electricity so we can dump the consumer grid. Commercial enterprise will invent process and facility power systems as soon as they are faced with the real cost of electricity.

    And people won’t need all those pills.

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