I was running short on time this morning on the show and touched on this, very briefly. You'll want to read the study, but here's the bulle points from WPRI:
Law Mandating Use of Renewable Energy Costing Wisconsinites Hundreds of Millions
Beacon Hill Institute study says Renewable Portfolio Standard benefits often overstated as well
A new study released today by the Wisconsin Policy Research Institute has found that the state law requiring the use of electricity generated from renewable sources such as wind and solar will cost Wisconsinites $788 million between now and 2017.
Commonly referred to as the Renewable Portfolio Standard, the law passed in 1998 and rewritten since then has been forcing utilities in the state to gradually increase the amount of energy from renewable sources. Under current law, 10% of electricity will have to come from renewable sources by 2016, although there is a movement in the Legislature to increase the requirement to 25% by 2025.
Utilities are allowed to pass on all “compliance costs” associated with the RPS to consumers, including both businesses and individuals.
“Legislators might want to pause and consider the economic impact the RPS is already having on homeowners and businesses before moving any further down the road,” said WPRI President George Lightbourn. “Renewables significantly increase electricity costs, and that has a real impact on individual Wisconsinites’ pocketbooks and the overall economy.”
In 2016, according to the analysis done by the Beacon Hill Institute, the current RPS will increase the average household electricity bill by $25 per year, the average commercial business bill by $200 per year and the average industrial business bill by over $15,000 per year. In that year alone, electricity will be 2.4% more costly than it would be without the RPS mandate – a total cost of $208 million.
RPS proponents sometimes argue that the renewable energy industry has created jobs. In 2016 alone however, the study concludes, increased energy costs and the impact to Wisconsin companies’ bottom-lines will lower employment by an estimated 1,780 jobs.
The Beacon Hill Institute study, The Economic Impact of Wisconsin’s Renewable Portfolio Standard, also examined the extent to which the use of renewable energy reduces greenhouse gas emissions, and pointed out an often overlooked fact. Wind and solar are “intermittent technologies” that require reliable backup generation from other traditional sources of electricity.
“The cycling of coal and (to a much lesser extent) gas plants as backup sources cause them to run inefficiently and produce more emissions than if the intermittent technologies were not present,” according to the study.
A copy of the study is available at www.wpri.org .
The Wisconsin Policy Research Institute, established in 1987, is a nonpartisan, not-for-profit think tank working to engage Wisconsinites in discussions and timely action on key public policy issues critical to the state’s future.
The Beacon Hill Institute is located at Suffolk University in Boston.