Alternative Power Sources Are Not Free



It sort of restores one’s faith in an independent, inquisitive, even impertinent media to read a story about legislators fighting Maryland Gov. Martin O’Malley’s wind power plan in the Environment and Climate News publication of May 2011.

In Maryland, when the executive branch of the state government decided to waste taxpayers’ money on expensive power generation, not one, but two powerful newspapers took him on, and exposed his program, to load extra expenses on the citizenry.

On the other hand, here in Arizona, the Corporation Commission has run wild mandating more and more purchases of expensive alternate (renewable, clean, green) power by our public utilities. The Corporation Commission’s favorite alternates, and their current costs on natural gas generated power are: Wind 47 percent; Photovoltaic cells 320 percent and Solar Thermal 473 percent.

There is no reason for mandating this expensive power, we are in no danger of running out of natural gas. With the new shale deposits the only question is whether we have a 100-year supply or 200 years.

Several of us have been trying to point out the high cost of the mandated purchases for several years now. This was even before the recent on-surge of even less costly natural gas.

The basic problem is that the proponents of the alternate sources point out that Arizona has lots of wind and sun, and they are both free. However, as the figures above show, power from wind and sun are not free.

However, with lack of exposure (aka the Baltimore Sun and the Washington Post) the best kept secret in Arizona is the true cost of alternate power.

The worst part about all of this is that it is the poor people who are most adversely affected. Their electricity bill is a much higher percentage of their total income than rich people.

So far I have found no lobby for the poor. So the facts of high-cost alternate power have had no public exposure. A sad commentary on Arizona media.

Dan Adams


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