The Daily Star, Oneonta, NY - otsego county news, delaware county news, oneonta news, oneonta sports


March 9, 2013

Let the markets determine our energy sources

In the Crime section of your local Barnes & Noble, you’ll find Elmore Leonard’s recent novel “Raylan.” In it, Marshal Raylan Givens encounters with a pair of thieves who steal kidneys from the healthy, then sell those vital organs back to their victims.

Talk about creating a market! Move down the aisle to economics and change the heist from organs to electricity, and Mr. Leonard could have a category-busting best seller.

By mandating a certain percentage of power generation from high-cost renewable sources, the government steals from its citizens the opportunity to buy cheap electricity. The electric companies (read: the ratepayers) are forced to buy a blend of electricity at higher rates.

What are you going to do? Go without electricity? Like kidneys, electricity is vital to your well-being. Currently, this mandated theft is chump change in New York. However, in Germany, it is causing real havoc.

Germany’s goal is that 35 percent of its electricity must come from renewables by 2020, and 80 percent by 2050. After the nuclear accident at the Fukushima power plant in Japan, German politicians further decided to phase out nuclear energy. The resultant squeeze — less energy, increasing demand, and unreliable, high-cost renewables — drove prices sky high.

German factories, unable to compete internationally, got exemptions from the surcharges. Other large and influential employers demanded parity, and also got a pass. Who pays the freight? Mr. and Mrs Schmidt, that‘s who! Unable to cover soaring costs, thousands of households have had their electricity turned off.

Germany now has a scandal a week as politicians try to uncover and claw back the subsidies so lavishly given. Meanwhile, Germany burns more coal than ever, with higher and higher emissions. Why? Because the utilities must back up unreliable but heavily subsidized renewables with traditional fuel sources. In Germany, it’s coal.

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