Unsustainable sustainable energy

The North Carolina Sustainable Energy Association (NCSEA), which is a special interest trade association for companies that benefit from renewable energy subsidies, has sponsored and now released a report by the consulting firm IRT Associates. The report exams what is purported to be the economic impact of state subsidies to renewable energy production. This would include such things as solar, wind, and bio fuels like hog waste. While the analysis is couched in terms of the benefits from the state’s renewable energy mandate program, known as SB3 (Senate Bill 3) it also includes energy sources like hydroelectric power which is not allowed as an energy source that fulfills that SB3 mandate. The study claims that $72 million in taxpayer supported subsidies has generated an increase of $1.7 billion in gross state product over the last 5 years and has “created or retained” about 4000 full time equivalent jobs per year over the same time period. I have written a comment on the report for my environmental newsletter this week.

But here’s an interesting point. Essentially the study, and apparently NCSEA, is claiming that but for the subsidies, these investments in “sustainable” energy and therefore these economic benefits, would not have occurred. In other words, tacitly the North Carolina Sustainable Energy Association is acknowledging that, without subsidies, these renewable energy sources are in fact unsustainable. Orwell would be proud.

Roy Cordato / Senior Economist and Resident Scholar

Roy Cordato is Senior Economist and Resident Scholar at the John Locke Foundation. From January 2001 to March 2017, he held the position of Vice President for Research at the ...

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