Study: Green Energy Is 5 Times More Expensive Than Conventional Power


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Andrew Follett Energy and Science Reporter
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Electricity from new wind and solar power is 2.5 to five times more expensive than electricity from existing conventional power sources, according to a study published Tuesday by the free-market Institute for Energy Research (IER).

IER’s study found that new solar and wind power are nearly five and 3.5 times more expensive, respectively, than electricity from existing nuclear reactors. IER also found green energy systems become more expensive and damaging to the power grid the more they’re used.

“Much of our existing coal and nuclear fleet could continue to provide affordable, reliable electricity for decades to come if not for policies like the Obama administration’s carbon regulations or the deal struck in California to shut down Diablo Canyon,” Thomas Pyle, the IER president, wrote in a press statement.

IER used government energy data to determine the externalized cost imposed on the power grid by the intermittent nature of wind and solar power. IER’s study is intended to show government officials the actual cost of retiring coal and nuclear plants and replacing them with new wind farms and solar panels.

“Unnecessarily shutting down our existing generation in favor of expensive and intermittent wind and solar power means Americans will be left with higher electricity bills and less money in their pockets,” Pyle said.”This will have the harshest impact on poor and middle class families who spend more of their hard-earned money on energy costs. This study adds a much-needed reality check to the debate over our nation’s electricity policy.”

Government data has been repeatedly used by green energy proponents to claim that wind and solar power are cost effective, but as IER’s report points out, this doesn’t take into account the intermittent nature of these energy sources or the strain on the power grid and subsidies involved. Countries using large amounts of wind and solar power are forced to pay these costs.

The German government, for example, spent $1.1 trillion to support wind power, but the average German pays 39 cents per kilowatt-hour for electricity due to the intense fiscal support for green energy. The average American only spends 10.4 cents per kilowatt-hour.

Solar and wind power get 326 and 69 times more in subsidy cash than conventional sources per amount of energy generated, according to 2013 Department of Energy data.

The average American’s electric bill has gone up 10 percent since January 2009, according to government data. This occurs even though the country is experiencing record low costs for generating electricity thanks to America’s new natural gas supplies created by hydraulic fracturing, or fracking.

The cheapness of new natural gas hasn’t translated into lower monthly payments for consumers due to new enivornemental regulations and attempts to boost solar and wind power. The state with the quickest rising power prices in the U.S. was in wind-rich Kansas. Prices there rose from 8.16 cents per kilowatt-hour in January, 2009, to 11.34 cents in January, 2015. That’s a 39 percent increase in the price of electricity, according to data from the Energy Information Administration.

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