Environmental think tank study supports Yankee Institute’s call to lower electricity bills

Rep. Lonnie Reed

Rep. Lonnie Reed

A report in the New York Times, of all publications, seems to lend credence to the charge by the Yankee Institute for Public Policy, that the General Assembly has the power to lower our electricity bills.

The Connecticut-based think tank called on the legislature to suspend the Renewable Portfolio Standards mandates on our electricity bills. We don’t even see the RPS as an itemization on our statements, but we pay for it. That’s because the state of Connecticut mandates that the companies which supply our electricity, snag a portion of it from renewable sources like wind, solar, biomass or hydropower. By 2020, 27 percent of our electricity must be generated from renewable sources at a cost of $250 million to rate payers. Eliminating or suspending that mandate could help lower the costs of electricity, in a state which pays the highest rates of any in the 48 contiguous states.

Now comes the report published in the Jan. 29, 2015 New York Times, quoting a prominent “environmental think-tank,” as saying “turning plant matter into liquid fuel or electricity is so inefficient that the approach is unlikely ever to supply a substantial fraction of global energy demand.”

And Connecticut is mandating that our power suppliers garner more than a quarter of our electricity from these sources within five years?

When the Yankee Institute released its report in early January – produced by the Beacon Hill Institute at Suffolk University – they were almost branded as heretics by environmental groups and public employees, who feed at the trough of handsome salaries, benefits and pensions underwritten by taxpayers.

“Our RPS goals have been instrumental in fast-tracking more affordable renewable opportunities,” said Rep. Lonnie Reed, D-Branford and co-chair of the legislature’s Energy and Technology Committee.

Added Dennis Schain, a spokesman for the state Department of Energy and Environmental Protection: “In addition, it does not appear that the study considered the fact that Connecticut developed a competitive procurement process to purchase the clean energy needed to meet RPS requirements – as opposed to the conventional approach of purchasing Renewable Energy Credits,” he said. “The innovative approach we adopted is estimated to save ratepayers more than $235 million over the next two decades.”

“Estimated?” Are these people kidding me? It was “estimated” that all of Connecticut would be slammed by a blizzard and we know how that turned out. It was “estimated” that Connecticut would be operating at budget surpluses, after the largest tax hike in state history four years ago. And we know how that turned out.

Rep. Reed all but stated there is not a windmill’s chance in the Kennedy’s backyard that the RPS mandate will be dropped. She even said calls for its removal are “part of a national push to sabotage and annihilate the growing consumer demand for renewable energy alternatives.”

Who is doing the sabotaging now?

“I would say that many of the claims for biofuels have been dramatically exaggerated,” Andrew Steer, president of the World Resources Institute, which produced the report, told the Times.

The WRI report supports the call by the Yankee Institute to at least give removal of the RPA mandate a hearing by Rep. Reed’s committee. Failure to do so, will be proof Rep. Reed and supporters of the RPS are nothing more than tools of the special interests, underwritten by the those who are paying high electricity bills.