State green energy mandates cost utilities and ratepayers $3 billion in 2015, according to a study released Monday, which found that the price tag of these energy policies has grown over the years.
Costs are expected to grow in the future as state mandates require that more green energy, like wind and solar, is added to the electric grid, according to a Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory report.
Renewable Portfolio Standard (RPS) “compliance costs totaled $3.0 billion in 2015 … which equates to 1.6% of average retail electricity bills in states with green energy mandates,” research scientist Galen Barbose wrote in the study.
While 1.6 percent is a relatively small portion of an electricity bill, that number is expected to grow in upcoming years. Cost caps that states put in place to protect consumers will somewhat blunt this, but cost caps vary by state and most leave room for rising costs.
However, that may be a low-end estimate. When cost figures from California independent power companies are included, the total cost of green mandates nearly doubles to $5.8 billion, or 3.1 percent of household electricity bills in 2015.
The report underscores an argument often made by Republicans and conservative groups, namely, that green mandates increase energy bills.
State Republican lawmakers all over the country have introduced legislation in recent years to freeze, roll back or repeal green energy mandates.
One of the most contentious battles is taking place in Ohio where Republican Gov. John Kasich bucked his own party to veto legislation to scale back green energy goals. North Carolina lawmakers are debating a bill to cut the state’s green mandate from 12 percent by 2021 to 8 percent by 2018.
Mandates vary by state. California, for example, has one of the most aggressive mandates, requiring 50 percent of electricity to come from green sources by 2030. Wisconsin, on the other hand, only required 10 percent green electricity by 2015.
Democrats and environmentalists will likely also see the study as vindication — yes, prices have gone up, but the increase so far has been small and carbon dioxide emissions have decreased.
States have been enacting green energy, or RPS, mandates since the 1990s, and 29 states and the District of Columbia require utilities to incorporate an ever-increasing amount of green energy into their electricity portfolio.
With President Donald Trump reversing years of Obama administration policies on the federal level, Democrats have turned to the states to “resist” his agenda.
Hundreds of state and local officials pledged to honor the goals of the Paris accord, which the Obama administration joined in 2016.
Democratic governors of California, New York, and Washington created the United States Climate Alliance to circumvent Trump on global warming policy.
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