Former EPA administrator: Renewable energy sources ‘simply not cost competitive’

That one quote cuts to the heart of the matter of pushing nondispatchable energy sources on utilities and consumers. Everything else you hear about solar, wind, and other “renewable” energy sources — they create jobs, they’re a fast-growing industry (with all our subsidies and mandates), they lessen the increase in global warming (by maybe one-twentieth of one degree Fahrenheit after 100 years, per the EPA) — is just noise.

Necessarily skyrocketing” electricity prices will kill jobs, destroy industries, and harm consumers and growth.

Here is the quote from J. Winston Porter, independent environmental and management consultant and former assistant administrator for solid waste and emergency response at the Environmental Protection Agency, in its context in an interview with the Triangle Business Journal:

Q: What does the future of renewable energy look like in North Carolina?

A: There’s a lot of interest, but the problem is, all these renewables are starting from a very small base. Only 4 percent of the energy in the United States is produced from wind or solar. It’s growing, but it’s not growing very fast. It’s simply not cost competitive. You’ve also got to have nuclear or gas or something else to back it up because the sun doesn’t shine all the time and the wind doesn’t blow all the time. Nuclear makes energy 95 percent of the time; it just sits there and makes energy.

Competition from highly efficient, dispatchable energy sources such as natural gas applying downward pressure on prices is the best thing not just for consumers, especially the poor, but also for renewables, which right now are expensive and highly inefficient nondispatchable resources:

The overarching goal, which we cannot lose sight of, is least-cost energy. Nothing drives prices down better than competition. Nothing stifles competition quite like government …

So instead of being propped up by subsidies, solar needs to be pushed by cheap natural gas. And natural gas needs to be pushed by price-competitive solar energy. Other energy sources need these competitors to increase in strength as well. Because it’s through price competition, not government crutches, that these industries grow stronger — and consequently, that a basic household necessity like electricity becomes more affordable so that people have more disposable income to meet other needs.

Jon Sanders / Director of Regulatory Studies

Jon Sanders studies regulatory policy, a veritable kudzu of invasive government and unintended consequences. As director of regulatory studies at the John Locke Foundation, Jo...

Reader Comments