Economic Analyst Says NY’s Clean Energy Policy Is A Trillion Dollar Nightmare

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Chris White Tech Reporter
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New York’s goal of becoming nearly completely reliant on clean energy within the next 30 years is an economic disaster that could bleed citizens’ wallets dry, an economic analyst told The Daily Caller News Foundation Thursday.

Attempting to meet the state’s so-called 80 by 50 mandate is unrealistic and could cost consumers more than $1 trillion by 2050, according to Jonathan Lesser, the president of consulting firm Continental Economics. He does not have much faith in New York’s Clean Energy Standard, which seeks to reduce the state’s gas emission 80 percent by 2050.

“They might say ‘Oh. They’re just climate deniers,'” he said about environmentalist might criticize his findings, “but it has nothing to do with whether you believe in climate change or not. It’s simple economics.”

Meeting the standard requires electrifying the state’s entire economy on a massive scale, said Lesser, whose forthcoming Aug. 22 report for the Manhattan Institute highlights the costs associated with the policy. It’s nearly impossible for state officials to construct the number of wind turbines and solar panels necessary to eliminate the need for fossil fuels, he added.

Even with enormous gains in energy efficiency, the mandate would require installing at least 100,000 megawatts (MW) of offshore wind generation, or 300,000 MW of solar power capacity by 2050, which is enormous by today’s standards. The U.S. has only about 11,300 MW of new solar power capacity. Hitting that mark would require installing at least 200,000 MW of battery storage to compensate for the intermittency of solar and wind power.

New York state regulators have also not considered the costs associated with the 1,000 miles of new high-voltage transmission facilities needed to shuttle the electricity to consumers. Worse still, he said, such a large buildup of renewable infrastructure will surely have significant effects on the environment, which will come with a cost.

“It’s possible that battery tech could improve so quickly that it will be trivial,” Lesser said about those who suggest technology could render the cost projections moot. “But by 2050 we could be flying in cars fueled by anti-gravity pills. But taking into cost of new technologies, I still don’t see the cost falling.”

The policy’s advocates get the basic economics wrong, because they use the social cost of carbon, which were developed by former President Barack Obama, Lesser said. But if New York reduced its carbon emission to zero by tomorrow, it would have almost no effect on temperature or climate.

Eliminating all of New York’s fossil fuel consumption would still not reduce climate change, because China and India are among the top carbon emitters on the planet. China plans to increase its coal capacity up to 20 percent.

Chinese officials proposed a five-year plan last year that would “raise coal-fired power capacity from around 900 gigawatts last year to as high as 1,100 gigawatts by 2020,” which is “more than the total power capacity of Canada,” according to a report earlier this year from The Wall Street Journal.

China’s coal power generation hit a record 396.1 billion kilowatt hours (kWh) in March, which is 8 percent above coal generation from the previous year. That month’s level of coal production came after the country generated a record-breaking 385.6 billion kWh in December 2016, according to recent reports from energy group Platts Top.

The shear amount of money and resources required to overcome these barriers are astronomical, Lesser said, adding that New York’s gambit is merely “an exercise in symbolic environmentalism that will raise electricity prices across the board.”

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