Former Trump economic adviser calls green energy mandates a tax on poor people

By Jason Hopkins

Former Trump economic adviser Stephen Moore took renewable energy mandates to task Tuesday, calling the targets unrealistic and a tax on the country’s poorest income earners.

Moore — an economic analyst and a senior fellow at The Heritage Foundation — explained in an op-ed why renewable energy mandates are wrong for the country. Across the U.S., state legislatures and governors are increasingly forcing utilities to incorporate more wind and solar energy sources into their energy mix. While environmentalists have hailed the growing trend, other critics, like Moore, say there will be a price to pay for the wild changes in U.S. energy portfolios.

“In 2017, about 1 percent of our power came from solar power and about 6 percent from wind. The idea of moving from 7 percent to 50 percent or 100 percent reliance on renewable energy without severe disruptions to the way we live our lives is a ‘Star Wars’ fantasy,” he wrote in his column.

Demands to boost renewable energy mandates have grown louder in recent years, with state legislative action following close behind.

Hawaii’s governor signed a 100 percent mandate in 2015, making it the first state in the country to require its entire energy mix to originate from renewables. California passed a similar bill in August, mandating all of its electricity comes from “clean” sources by 2045. Environmental activist Tom Steyer has bankrolled campaigns in several states that aim to increase the use of wind and solar.

However, opponents of these mandates point out that wind and solar are not perfect. They can only generate energy while the sun is shining or when the wind is blowing. Greater inclusion of renewables into an energy portfolio decreases grid reliability — the ability for the grid to deliver electricity to customers without interruption.

“If you want to keep the lights or the air conditioning on at home, or recharge your iPhone or iPad, or keep the factories and hospitals and schools open, we are going to need the reliability of fossil fuels. Period,” Moore explained.

The longtime economics analyst also detailed how stringent mandates hurt those that are already struggling economically. Poor households pay a much larger portion of their income on utility bills than the rich and middle class.

Higher renewable energy mandates, however, typically mean higher electricity costs. States with higher-than-average renewable portfolio standards, like Hawaii and Connecticut, also top the list as the most expensive states in terms of electricity prices.

“All of this is so unnecessary. If wind and solar are truly the energy sources of the future — with reliability and low costs — let the market determine that,” Moore concluded.

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Image courtesy of Wikimedia Commons/Stausifr

One thought on “Former Trump economic adviser calls green energy mandates a tax on poor people

  1. Jason,
    Wind and solar are better in some places than others.
    New England is unfortunate
    It has the worst wind condition in the US, except the South.
    It has the worst solar condition in the US, except some part of the Northwest.
    Wind and Solar Conditions in New England: New England has highly variable weather and low-medium quality wind and solar conditions.

    – Wind electricity is zero about 30% of the hours of the year (it takes a wind speed of about 7 mph to start the rotors)
    – Wind is minimal most early mornings and most late afternoons/early evenings (peak demand hours), especially during summer
    – Wind often is minimal 5 – 7 days in a row in summer and winter, as proven by ISO-NE real-time generation data.
    – About 60% is generated at night, when demand is much less than during the late afternoons/early evenings
    – About 60% is generated in winter.
    – During winter, the best wind month is up to 2.5 times the worst summer month
    – New England has the lowest capacity factor (about 0.262) of any US region, except the US South.

    – Solar electricity is strictly a midday affair.
    – It is zero about 65% of the hours of the year, mostly at night.
    – It often is minimal 5 – 7 days in a row in summer and in winter, as proven by ISO-NE real-time generation data.
    – It is minimal early mornings and late afternoons/early evenings
    – It is minimal much of the winter months
    – It is minimal for several days with snow and ice on most of the panels.
    – It varies with variable cloudiness, which would excessively disturb distribution grids with many solar systems, as happens in southern California and southern Germany on a daily basis. Utilities use batteries to stabilize their grids.
    – During summer, the best solar month is up to 4 times the worst winter month; that ratio is 6 in Germany.
    – New England has the lowest capacity factor (about 0.145, under ideal conditions) of any region in the US, except some parts of the US Northwest.

    NOTE: Even if the NE grid had large capacity connections with Canada and New York, any major NE wind lull and any major NE snowfall likely would affect the entire US northeast, i.e., relying on neighboring grids to “help-out” likely would not be prudent strategy.

    ISO-NE publishes the minute-by-minute outputs off various energy sources contributing their electricity to the grid.
    All one has to do is add the wind and solar and one comes rapidly to the conclusion both are minimal many hours of the year, at any time during the year.

    – Wind plus solar production could be minimal for 5 – 7 days in summer and in winter, especially with snow and ice on most of the panels, as frequently happens during December, January and February, as proven by ISO-NE real-time generation data.

    If we were to rely on wind and solar for most of our electricity, massive energy storage systems (a few hundred GWh-scale for Vermont, multiple TWh-scale for NE) would be required to cover multi-day wind lulls, multi-day overcast/snowy periods, and seasonal variations. See URLs.

    Wind and solar cannot ever be expected to charge New England’s EVs, so people can get to work the next day, unless backed up by several TWh of storage, because wind/solar lulls can occur for 5 – 7 days in a row, in summer and in winter. BTW, the turnkey capital cost of one TWH of storage (delivered as AC to the grid) is about $400 billion.

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