Wind Power Mandates? Think Twice!

Click here for Cascade Policy Institute’s new report.

Renewable energy on the Pacific Northwest’s electricity grid has increased substantially over the years, and this is leading to a number of problems.

For the Pacific Northwest, renewable energy expansion truly means wind energy expansion because it is the closest to being market-competitive of all renewable energy sources. Wind power, like hydroelectric power, is clean (i.e., carbon-free in its production), and this remains a large part of policymakers’ attraction to wind. Unfortunately, the negative aspects of wind power are apparent, yet often overlooked.

Ever-increasing wind generation will have a significant impact on the reliability and affordability of electricity in the Pacific Northwest that very well might outweigh any of the claimed environmental benefits.


Todd Wynn is Vice President at Cascade Policy Institute, Oregon’s free market public policy research center. He received his bachelor’s degree in Business Economics from California State University Long Beach and his masters in International and Developmental Economics from University of San Francisco.

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Posted by at 05:45 | Posted in Measure 37 | 8 Comments |Email This Post Email This Post |Print This Post Print This Post
  • Bob Clark

    The PacifiCorp rate increase comes on top of a 22% increase only this last February, and this latter one was mostly also related to the renewable mandates. The utilities aren’t really fighting these renewable mandates because they earn a regulated 10% rate of return on the equity they invest in these uneconomical renewable resources.

    Both PacifiCorp and PGE also propose adding new natural gas generating facilities, which will in large measure serve to back up unreliable renewable energy. So the actual marginal cost of wind energy including subsidies is not in the 10 cents per KWH range but probably more in the 20 cent per KWH range. By comparison intermediate wholesale market power deals are available in the 5 to 10 cents per KWH range, today. It’s as though Oregon has decided to take energy off its list of historical competitive strengths, much as California before it has done to its disadvantage.

    Recently, the renewable energy madness has been extended to include a program whereby PGE is required to pay folks installing solar roof panels some 65 cents per KWH. At this price level, it may actually be more economical for residential folks to generate their own electricity with natural gas, getting off PGE’s grid altogether.

    Isn’t the sustainable mantra pursued by local and state government for the better part of a decade more like a no or little growth strategy? It sure seems to be to me.

    • Todd Wynn

      Bob,

      You are right about the solar panels and utilities paying for such power. Currently it is only a pilot program called a feed-in tariff. I am pretty sure the legislature will try to move it to a full state-wide program probably even by next legislative session.

      That would mean utilities would have to pay anyone who puts up a solar panel on their roof an above market rate (usually between 40-60 cents a kWh) for a period of 20 years. This cost would be integrated into all ratepayers’ electricity bills.

      Thus you will be paying for your neighbor’s “investment” in solar panels.

      • Rupert in Springfield

        >Thus you will be paying for your neighbor’s “investment” in solar panels.

        Exactly – this is a scam that has been tried before back in the Carter era. Under that program a customer generating power could sell it back to the power company at a slightly inflated rate. My neighbor some years ago did this with a water wheel.

        This current scam, selling it back at four to six times the going rate amounts to a total rip off of your neighbor.

        If you see someone putting up solar panels on their roof under this program, they aren’t saving the planet, they are reaching into your wallet.

        “HONK IF YOUR KIDS PAID FOR MY SOLAR PANELS”

        • valley p

          “HONK IF YOUR ENERGY SUCKING BUSINESS USES FEDERALLY SUBSIDIZED HYDROPOWER”

          • Steve Plunk

            My energy sucking public school district pays for those solar panels as well. The welfare mom electric bill. The nonprofit organization.

            valley p, sometimes you need to think before you post.

  • valley p

    Todd, I’m wondering if you and Cascade Policy Institute have found any way that I can voluntarily opt out of a warming planet. Since you are advocating that others should be able to opt out of paying for renewable energy, then I should be able to opt out of the environmental impacts of their decision to buy cheaper energy and past the environmental costs over to others right? Its only fair isn’t it?

    Steve, I think you missed my humor. It was directed at Rupert, who in the past has said he resents having to pay higher electricity costs because he has an energy demanding business. I have pointed out to him that his energy demanding business is reliant on federal hydropower subsidized by American taxpayers. (Springfield gets nearly all of its electricity from federal hydropower).

    • Steve Plunk

      The planet is not warming from hydro power and your humor isn’t funny.

      • valley p

        I agree with your first point. On the 2nd, unfortunately there is always a stiff in the audience. Nothing can be done about that.

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