Senators threaten to raise energy costs during lame duck session

Marita Noon Executive Director, Energy Makes America Great
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During a hearing held in New Mexico, Steve Michel, chief counsel for Western Resource Advocates’ (WRA) Energy Program, stated the belief that there must be a Renewable Portfolio Standard (RPS) because otherwise no one would voluntarily use renewable energy resources. Why? Because they are expensive and untested. An interesting opinion coming from a man whose organization’s main goals are to “advance clean energy to reduce pollution and global climate change” and “promote sustainable energy technologies—such as solar and wind power.”

An avowed supporter and proponent of “renewables” admitting there needs to be regulations to force renewable use because they are “more expensive” should be alarming to all energy users and to all Americans.

At a time when the American economy is suffering, intentional cost increases are unnecessary. Yet this is exactly what Democratic New Mexico Sen. Jeff Bingaman, chairman of the Senate Energy and Natural Resources Committee, is proposing with his newly introduced Renewable Electricity Promotion Act of 2010, which will make a 15 percent Renewable Electricity Standard (RES) the federal law.

The RES, or RPS, is a standard that is currently set on a state-by-state basis. It requires that a certain percentage of electricity be generated by renewable sources — namely wind and solar — by a specified date. For example, California set a goal of having 20 percent of its electricity from renewable sources by 2010 and they are pushing for 33 percent by 2020 — most other states have goals that match the year: 10% by 2010, 15% by 2015 and 20% by 2020.

Thirty states currently have mandatory renewable regulations. According to an Emerging Energy Research market study, few states are on track to meet their goals. California’s Proposition 23, being voted on this fall — and supported by Senate candidate Carly Fiorina as being necessary to protect the state’s economy — requires the state to abandon increased renewable energy requirements until California’s unemployment drops to 5.5 percent or less for four consecutive quarters. Current unemployment is around 12 percent. Polls show Proposition 23 is likely to pass.

While few states are able to meet their own goals and while California is voting on repealing theirs, Sen. Bingaman is forging ahead with a national regulation that, according to Reuters, he plans to make a “reality during the lame-duck session after the mid-term election.” Some level of RES or RPS has been included in many previous bills that have failed to pass so the attempt to slip it through in a lame-duck session is indicative of the fact that they know it would not pass if senators had to face voters after voting on it.
Sen. Bingaman should know better. In his home state of New Mexico, the Public Regulation Commission (PRC) rejected the public utilities’ original plan to meet the state’s renewable energy requirements because they “cost the public too much.” In a 180-plus-page report, the high costs were determined to be “not in the public interest.” The Attorney General’s office stated that ratepayers would be forced to absorb the increases. An editorial in the Albuquerque Journal, the state’s largest newspaper, said, “It all comes down to how much the rest of us should pay to subsidize solar energy.” The PRC approved a scaled back plan that would only increase ratepayers cost by 2 percent instead of the original 4 percent.

Hailed as essential for the security and future of America, the Renewable Electricity Promotion Act of 2010 will raise costs while doing nothing about America’s security or future. The idea that renewable energy will help America’s security implies that it’s the only way to stop buying foreign oil — which is totally false. Within North America, there is an abundance of energy resources. Instead of an energy shortage, there’s an access shortage.

The Renewable Electricity Promotion Act of 2010 plays into Obama’s expanding-federal-control agenda. As Forbes magazine states, “Obama believes the West uses a disproportionate share of the world’s energy resources.” He wants America to have less and other countries to have more. It “has little to do with whether the planet is getting warmer or cooler, it is simply a way to penalize, and therefore reduce, America’s carbon consumption.” And, America’s economy.

Marita Noon is the Executive Vice President of Energy Makes America Great Inc., the advocacy arm of CARE (Citizens’ Alliance for Responsible Energy), the New Mexico nonprofit organization advocating for citizens’ right to energy that is abundant, available, and affordable. CARE works on energy issues state, region and nationwide. Find out more at