The Cure for the RPS Blues

June 12th, 2007

Utility commissioners in the Southeast (and some lobbyists in Washington) are running a temperature about the prospects for a national renewable portfolio standard (RPS).  They seem to be feeling under the weather because they think such a law would mean higher costs for consumers.  This suspicion is supported by “evidence” in a study commissioned by - surprise, surprise - the utility industry’s biggest trade association, the Edison Electric Institute.
Fortunately, we have found the cure for the RPS blues!
Chairman Jeff Bingaman invites you to consider a new report, released yesterday, that puts in context any overheated allegations that a national renewable portfolio standard would harm consumers. The 29-page study, “Impacts of a 15 Percent Renewable Portfolio Standard,” was prepared by experts at the Energy Information Administration (EIA).
EIA, created by Congress in 1977, is an independent, policy-neutral statistical and analytical agency within the U.S. Department of Energy.  It provides timely, high-quality data, forecasts and analyses to promote sound policymaking, efficient markets and public understanding regarding energy and its interaction with the economy and the environment.

Sen. Bingaman, a leading voice for renewable energy, will introduce a Renewable Portfolio Standard amendment during floor debate on the energy bill.  Last month he asked EIA to analyze a 15 percent RPS.   A key finding: The increased use of renewable energy in a national RPS leads to only slightly higher electricity expenditures (0.5 percent) by 2030 and lower coal and natural gas prices.

So, if fear of renewables is the fever, EIA’s new analysis surely is the cure.