More on the Anti-Energy Legislation

By August 4, 2007Energy

The final House bills include a 15 percent renewable fuels requirement for electric utilities, which really sticks it to southern states where access to alternative energy sources like wind is limited. Bloomberg, on passage:

Under Republican control, the House killed previous bids to pass a renewable electricity mandate before the proposal reached the chamber’s floor and today’s approval was a breakthrough.

It was a setback, however, for the nation’s largest utilities, which include Southern Co. and American Electric Power Co. The industry argued that passage would raise power rates and create a particular disadvantage for parts of the country, such as the Southeast, with limited wind-power potential.

“This isn’t even close to being over,” said Tom Kuhn, president of Edison Electric Institute, the lobbying group for publicly traded utilities, in a statement. “The House vote is going to throw a wrench into House and Senate efforts to reconcile their two bills and produce something acceptable to both chambers.”

From the New York Times.

The utilities provision, or the so-called renewable electricity standard amendment, was among the most contested measures in the energy bill. Sponsored by Representative Tom Udall, Democrat of New Mexico, and several others, it will force utilities to make a significant share of their electricity from solar, wind, geothermal, water and other nonfossil fuel sources, although they can meet part of the requirement through conservation measures.

The standard applies only to investor-owned utilities and exempts rural electric cooperatives, municipal utilities, the Tennessee Valley Authority and the state of Hawaii from the mandate.

Why are rural electric co-ops and municipal utilities exempt?* Do their power plants emit some sort of different form of carbon dioxide we don’t know about?

Oh, yes: Tax increase — $16 billion. Prepare to pay more at the pump.

* A rhetorical question. The RECs and municipal utilities represent traditional constituencies for the House majority. Politics, not principle, shaped the renewable fuels requirement.

UPDATE (9:40 p.m.): The NAM and the Edison Electric Institute issued a news release yesterday on the renewable fuels requirement.

Join the discussion 3 Comments

  • buy fine art says:

    It’s quite sad that some authorities submit a law with hidden agenda. It’s either they want to pose an alternative where they themselves can earn money or just for the purpose of coping with their responsibilities as legislators.

    We’re already in the verge of losing all of our natural resources. Not until we do something unselfishly for this, we will never get everything fine.

  • I’m not sure that I think these particular entities should be exempt, but the bottom line is, until someone places a price on pollution and global warming (at least a price other than the catastrophic one we will face if we do nothing), nothing will be done about it. I recognize that this strikes some as unfair, draconian, and (if you choose not to believe there’s anything wrong with our planet) wrong headed. Yet consider what happens when Americans are forced to endure something difficult or objectionable. The most salient example I can think of is World War II. With rationing of all kinds of every day items, not to mention the general fear and anxiety and the loss of life that was involved, we rallied around a cause and invented some of the most remarkable things, not to mention raised our industry standards and became a world super-power economically. Perhaps struggle or deprivation might be the only real ways to spark a fire in us to find new ways to fuel our homes and cars. This is only cruel and draconian if we believe that there are no other alternatives, and we’ve never been a nation that simply accepted there was no choice.

  • Jim Muckerheide says:

    In case this can’t be defeated, establish a back-up position that allows utilities to build/buy wind power outside their own service territory, i.e., where the wind blows. The nation would still get the (costly) renewable sources, but without penalizing regions that do not have access to cost-effective wind, water, geothermal or sun sources. It would provide for more equitable financial burdens among utilities and their ratepayers. (Have wind resources been evaluated at selected mountaintop removal sites, recovered and to be recovered?)

    Jim Muckerheide,
    Needham MA

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