Mackinac Center Analysts Refute NRDC Green Energy Claims

The Examiner, September 1, 2009

Reliance on renewable mandates will cost, not create, jobs

MIDLAND — The adoption of “green energy” policy recommendations made in a recent report by the National Resources Defense Council would push Michigan’s economy into a freefall, according to Mackinac Center for Public Policy energy analysts Russ Harding and Tom Tanton. The report, “Energy Future: A Green Energy Alternative for Michigan,” claims that the state’s future energy needs can simply and quickly be met through renewable sources that could save $3 billion in electricity costs over 20 years.

“The NRDC report has the luxury of avoiding the empirical evidence that renewable mandates and rejection of clean-coal energy strategies kill industry, cost jobs and wreak economic havoc,” said Harding, referring to a March 2009 study released by Spain’s Universidad Rey Juan Carlos. “The Energy Future report describes one side of a two-sided equation. We are promised green jobs if we rely solely on alternative energy to power our homes and factories. What we are not told is that for every green job created, we could lose at least two or three other jobs because of higher energy costs.”

The URJC study reported that Spain’s $36 billion renewable energy portfolio created only $10 billion of energy, effectively raising the country’s comprehensive energy prices by 31 percent. Citing additional energy costs as high as 55 percent, several of Spain’s largest industries subsequently moved operations to other countries.

While agreeing with the NRDC assessment that the Michigan Public Service Commission’s predictions of increased power demand in Michigan are overstated, Harding and Tanton disagree with the conclusion that new baseload coal or nuclear power plants are not needed.

“Most of Michigan’s large power plants are aging and need to be replaced with new, environmentally clean technology,” said Harding. “Trying to keep the older plants running and supplementing them with wind and solar will lead to more pollution, not less.”

The Mackinac Center recently contracted with Tanton, president of T2 and Associates and a senior fellow in energy studies at Pacific Research Institute, to research and write an analysis on energy policy for Michigan that will be published in early 2010.

“It’s almost funny that NRDC would tout the world’s oldest and most-expensive technologies like wind, sun and firewood as solutions to Michigan’s 21st century future,” said Tanton. “Mankind has advanced over the centuries by moving away from old, tired and diffuse energy forms. States like California that have already tried the NRDC approach continue to have the nation’s highest utility rates and the lowest power quality, along with associated disastrous state budgets and economies.

“The NRDC approach has to rely on heavy subsidies and government mandates because the technologies have been left in the dust, not because they are ‘infant’ industries,” Tanton continued. “If NRDC was as concerned about the human resources in Michigan as they are the natural resources, they would focus on technologies like nuclear, clean coal and Michigan’s own vast reserves of natural gas, which can pave the way for an economic resurgence in Michigan.”

Nothing contained in this blog is to be construed as necessarily reflecting the views of the Pacific Research Institute or as an attempt to thwart or aid the passage of any legislation.

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