Friday, April 10, 2009

Cap & Trade... and so much more

In the latest in a long list of "survey pieces" about the difficultines of implementing renewable energy mandates, the Wall Street Journal editorializes against (actually "eviscerates") Henry Waxman's new Cap and Trade bill.

Essentially calling the bill a trojan horse because it stops short of laying out any specifics about how the carbon tax will be levied or the proceeds spent, the Journal notes that a good portion of the bill's 648 page draft discussion text is dedicated to a stelath RPS mandate.

Buried in the bill is a list of new regulations on household consumer electricity use and a requirement for 25% renewables by 2012.  The Journal uses this as a jumping off point to reprise all of the arguments against an RPS:

"Right off, the bill mandates that 25% of U.S. electricity come from wind, solar, geothermal or biomass by 2025. Sorry, nuclear doesn't count. This kind of renewable portfolio standard directly contradicts the putative flexibility of cap and trade, which is supposed to allow businesses to reduce CO2 how and where it is least expensive. But Democrats aren't about to let the details of their own policies stand in the way of magical thinking.

Despite political favoritism and billions in subsidies, wind still only accounts for about 1% of U.S. net electric generation, and solar all of one-hundredth of 1%. So now the liberal solution is simply to force people to buy them, a la the ethanol mandate. Yet it will be difficult for renewables to ever reach 25%, given their inherent limitations (intermittency) and, ironically, green opposition (no new power lines). That won't stop Congress from punishing utilities that fail to meet an impossible goal."

The arguments are nothing new and neither is the proposal-- just another battle in the ongoing war... 

Henry Waxman Has a Plan . . . [Wall Street Journal]