REPS: Burning coal is bad for the environment. Burn trees instead.

Did you know that the renewable energy portfolio standards law was not passed as a jobs program?

The renewable energy lobby would like you to think that’s what it’s for. But actually, the law had four stated purposes:

  1. Diversify the resources used to reliably meet the energy needs of consumers in the State.
  2. Provide greater energy security through the use of indigenous energy resources available within the State.
  3. Encourage private investment in renewable energy and energy efficiency.
  4. Provide improved air quality and other benefits to energy consumers and citizens of the State.

Now, REPS’ ability to achieve those goals is eminently questionable (see my report, for example). Nevertheless, one reason REPS can’t be a jobs program is because renewable energy facilities require more jobs per unit of energy produced than traditional sources.

That’s another way of saying renewable energy is inefficient, it takes more people doing work to produce the same results as before.

But taken at face value, if the law is supposed to provide improved air quality and use indigenous energy resources, shouldn’t it discourage burning trees and shipping wood to be burned for fuel in Europe?

Get a load of this from The Robesonian:

In an announcement by Dave Shaffer, chief operating officer and president of Georgia Renewable Power, his company’s subsidiary, North Carolina Renewable Power -Lumberton LLC, has renovated the former 35 MW coal-fired electrical generating station and has “re-powered it to be a highly-efficient Combined Heat and Power plant that burns 100 percent renewable fuel.”

The plant is already generating power and sending it to Duke Energy, Shaffer said.

“This is a great investment for the county,” Robeson County Manager Ricky Harris said. “These are great paying jobs.”

According to the company’s announcement, GRP has invested more than $50 million in the plant with an additional $60 million to be invested in additional modifications. When finished in the spring of 2017, the plant will produce 25 megawatts of electrical power as well as an “enhanced wood fuel product” for export to Ireland and other European nations, the company statement says.

The plant currently employees about 25 people and when completed will provide more than 30 direct jobs, according to the statement. The total number of local jobs will eventually jump to almost 200 when those associated with transportation of fuel to the plant and the harvesting of timber for the plant’s fuel production operations are added in.

A quick rundown:

  • Spend at least $110 million to convert a functioning plant
  • Reduce the plant’s overall output from 35 MW to 25 MW
  • Burn trees instead of coal
  • Under the guise of it’s “100 percent renewable fuel”
  • But hey! maybe 200 jobs

We’ve been had.

Jon Sanders / Research Editor and Senior Fellow, 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...