On Wednesday afternoon, hearings continued in the Senate Public Utilities Committee on SB 34 to repeal the Ohio renewable energy mandate. Supporters of the repeal highlighted the efforts of the wind and solar industry to protect their special interests in the face of mounting evidence from Europe that “ renewable energy destroys more jobs than they create and are harmful to the economy.” The Statehouse press report is provided below. Our view is that the arguments in favor of repeal are so compelling that protests from the wind industry sound more and more absurd with every passing day. The emperor has no clothes.
from GONGWER 2-12-14
RENEWABLE ENERGY (Jordan, K.) To repeal the requirement that electric distribution utilities and electric services companies provide 25% of their retail power supplies from advanced and renewable energy resources by 2025.
Travis Fischer, policy associate for the Institute for Energy Research, said support for renewable energy mandates comes from misperceptions about the country’s energy resources and beliefs that they will create jobs.
However, renewable energy standards destroy more jobs than they create and are harmful for the economy, he said. Moreover, America has the largest combined reserves of coal, natural gas and oil in the world.
Responding to a question from Sen. Coley, Mr. Fischer said policymakers should refrain from meddling in the energy market and “stay open-ended” in order to allow the next technology to thrive.
Sen. Kearney questioned the witness’ assertion that money spent on renewable energy harms other sources, like coal and natural gas.
“I reject this zero sum game,” he said. “I think our economy is much more dynamic than that.”
Mr. Fischer pointed to studies of wind power in Spain that he said show how much government subsidies in that country harmed job creation.
Sen. Seitz cited U.S. Sen. Lamar Alexander (R-Tenn.) discussing how Germany, which invested heavily in solar energy, now has to purchase nuclear power from France and natural gas from Russia, while building new coal-fired power plants to keep its factories running. In addition, Germany has one of the highest electricity rates in the European Union, he added. Mr. Fischer agreed.
Michael Farren, a PhD candidate at Ohio State University, testified as a proponent on his own behalf.
The witness criticized a report from OSU’s Center for Resilience researchers that found Ohio’s clean energy law saved Ohioans 1.4% on their electricity bills while creating jobs. Mr. Farren said the study provides insufficient information about how it was conducted to verify the results.
“The report certainly isn’t peer reviewed,” he said, adding that he unsuccessfully attempted to contact the authors as he was unable to determine who had written the study.
Sen. Seitz recalled that he also tried to ask the Center for Resilience for more information about the report in October.
“I have received precisely zip, zero,” he said.
Myron Ebell, director of the Competitive Enterprise Institute’s Center for Energy and Environment, said the wind and solar energy industries have claimed since the 1970s that modest subsidies would help them enter the market and become competitive in a few years.
While electricity from wind and solar has gotten cheaper, four decades later it is still more expensive than power from coal and gas-fired power plants, he said. Nonetheless, the industries still claim that a few more years of mandates and subsidies will make them competitive.
The Buckeye Institute’s Greg Lawson said the “energy landscape” has dramatically changed since the advanced portfolio standards were adopted and pointed to Ohio’s shale gas boom.
“The entire premise of government mandates on energy is misguided. Given the current realities of the energy market, these mandates become even more absurd,” he said.
Jay Lehr, science director for the Heartland Institute, said the intermittent nature of wind and solar power requires 100% of conventional power sources running on low to be plugged into the grid when the wind doesn’t blow and the sun doesn’t shine.
Sen. Kearney questioned Mr. Ebell about the source of CEI’s funding, specifically from Exxon Mobile and API.
Mr. Ebell said CEI, as a 501 (c)(3) organization doesn’t disclose its donors. However, Exxon Mobile has announced its support for the group, he added.
“We receive funding from a wide variety of sources. Unfortunately it’s not very much,” he said, adding that the group’s corporate donations pale in comparison to corporate funding for environmental groups.
“You rightly assume I was going to ask you about some connection between your funding and some of the positions that you espouse,” Sen. Kearney responded. Mr. Ebell encouraged the senator to exercise skepticism toward all sources involved in the debate.
Sen. Eklund asked what made studies forecasting economic problems from renewable energy more convincing than opposing research that predicts the opposite.
“Why should we trust these predictions of doom more than we should predictions of Shangri La?” he said.
Mr. Ebell said there were numerous examples around the world to show the impact of government subsidies for renewable energy.
“It takes money out of people’s pockets, it takes money out of businesses’ pockets, which can only impoverish the people,” he said.
Sen. Skindell noted that companies involved in developing shale drilling technology have received federal tax credits for 20 years, along with funding for mapping the resource and other subsidies.
Mr. Lehr agreed, but said the difference was that government assistance to the shale industry was “an example of a huge government success.”
Mr. Ebell cited a study that he said found government subsidies for natural gas totaled roughly 25 cents per megawatt-hour of electricity produced, versus about $25 for wind and solar energy.
Chairman Seitz said the committee, in recent years, has considered proposals to expand the renewable standards to include hydropower from Canada, bio digesters and combined heat and power technology.
“And every time I try to advance that agenda, the wind and solar people cry bloody hell,” he said.
Mr. Lehr said the opposition was due to the wind and solar industries “see the pot of gold being divided up by too many takers.”…