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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