Policy Documents

The Leaflet - Rethinking Renewables

February 17, 2012

More and more states are struggling to reach lofty renewable energy mandates. Twenty-nine states have renewable power standards (RPS) that require the increased use of selected renewable power sources within the state. Many of these mandates were set, with no scientific basis, with goals of 15 percent by 2015 or 25 percent by 2025.

Since renewable energy is currently more expensive per kilowatt hour (kWh) than conventional fossil fuels, those higher costs are being passed on to ratepayers. Additionally, many of the mandates don’t allow for the use of more-affordable clean energies such as hydroelectric, nuclear, and natural gas.

Several states, including Kansas, North Carolina, Ohio, and West Virginia, are revisiting their renewable energy mandates to find ways to make them more realistic or, in some cases, to outright repeal them. Heartland’s Policy Tip Sheet on Illinois’ renewable power mandates offers the following changes:

- Broadening the standard to include all next-generation energy technologies including nuclear, combined cycle natural gas, geothermal, etc.

- Adjusting the compliance schedule to provide greater flexibility through altering deadlines or percentage targets.

- Making the program voluntary and waiving all noncompliance penalties.

These solutions would allow utilities, and thereby consumers, to better adapt to next-generation energy technologies. If you would like more information about renewable energy standards please contact Heartland’s energy and environment legislative specialist, John Monaghan, at 312/377-4000 or at jmonaghan@heartland.org.

This week’s edition of The Leaflet features research and commentary addressing Ohio’s renewable mandate, digital textbooks, NFIP re-authorization, consumer electronics, attack on conscience, and state sales tax burdens fall.


John Nothdurft
Director - Government Relations
The Heartland Institute



Lead Story 

Research & Commentary: Ohio Alternative Energy Portfolio Standard

Ohio is debating a bill that would repeal the state’s renewable energy mandate. Proponents of the standard believe it creates jobs, but a number of studies suggest the standard actually destroys jobs when looking at the economy as a whole.

As the Research & Commentary notes,

“A 2011 study by the Beacon Hill Institute found the Alternative Energy Portfolio Standard will cause Ohio to lose 9,753 jobs by 2025 and cost Ohio energy consumers $8.629 billion in higher costs over a ten-year period between 2016 and 2025, including more than $1.4 billion in 2025 alone.

“Proponents of the standard claim it creates jobs, but a 2009 study by King Juan Carlos University in Spain found for every “green job” created, 2.2 jobs were destroyed in the overall economy. (Spain was a widely cited leader in government mandates for green investments.) The job-production claim has been further undermined in the United States as stimulus-backed renewable energy companies such as Solyndra and Beacon Power have declared bankruptcy and others, such as Nevada Geothermal Power, have been unable to pay their bills.

“Growing budget deficits in Washington, DC have reduced political support for extending federal subsidies for alternative energy. Recently the vice president of government affairs for Iberdrola Renewables said without continuation of the production tax credit there would be “close to zero” megawatts of wind power built domestically in 2013. A cut in federal funding would further increase the price Ohio electricity consumers pay for these luxury energy goods.

“Although pending EPA regulations threaten the closure of some of Ohio’s coal-fired generating capacity, the state’s abundant natural gas supplies could be used to meet environmental goals while reducing electricity costs. The energy industry consultancy IHS found total savings to U.S. consumers resulting from low natural gas prices could surpass $100 billion a year. Natural gas virtually eliminates many pollutants, including mercury, particulate matter, and sulfur dioxide; cuts nitrogen oxides and carbon monoxide by 80 percent relative to coal; and has life cycle greenhouse gas emissions about 50 percent less than coal.

“A more effective way to achieve the stated employment and environmental protection goals of AEPS, at a lower cost, would be through greater development of the state’s natural gas resources.”



What We're Working On

Research & Commentary: Digital Textbooks

The Obama administration has announced it wants every child in the nation to have an e-textbook by 2017. Several states, including California and Utah, already have made their way towards that goal. The administration has proposed and increased federal subsidies for broadband access to encourage the spread of learning technology and Internet access.

Research & Commentary: National Flood Insurance Program Reauthorization
Finance, Insurance, and Real Estate

Reauthorization of the National Flood Insurance Program (NFIP) has been a political football in recent years, with Congress unwilling to commit to reform. Since its statutory authorization expired in 2008, NFIP has been kept running through a series of short-term reauthorizations, most recently in December 2011, when the program was extended until May 31, 2012. In this Research & Commentary, Legislative Specialist Matthew Glans examines flood insurance reauthorization and the National Flood Insurance Program from multiple perspectives.


Consumer Electronics Future Bright - If Government Doesn't Interfere

Every January, tens of thousands of technology industry leaders travel to Las Vegas for the International Consumer Electronics Show. CES is one of the world’s largest and most exciting industry trade shows, the main forum where leading technology companies showcase their latest products and services and test new concepts still in development.


Timeline: The Administration's Attack on Conscience
Health Care

Given the level of controversy and attention attracted by President Barack Obama’s recent announcements concerning mandatory coverage of abortifacients, sterilization, and contraception, it is worthwhile to consider the timeline involved for the decision process that brought the administration to this point. The following timeline, provided to Health Care News by Capitol Hill staff, outlines the nearly two-year process that brought this controversy to its head.


State Sales Tax Burdens Fell Slightly in 2011
Budget & Tax

Heartland’s Budget & Tax News reports that according to a study from Vertex, Inc., a provider of corporate tax software and services, “The average level of state sales taxes fell in 2011 to 5.49 percent.” It also found, “The nation’s highest city sales tax rate in 2011—7 percent—was in Wrangell, Alaska. The highest combined sales tax rate—state, county, local, and special purpose sales taxes—was in Tuba City, Arizona, at 13.725 percent.”

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Heartland's Emerging Issues Call

Topic: Hydraulic Fracturing

Wednesday, March 7, 2012 at 1:00 pm EST

Phone number: 218/936-6581

Pin: 37661

RSVP by emailing Robin Knox at rknox@heartland.org

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You can listen to it here


Policy Newspaper 

Info Tech & Telecom News

The February issue of InfoTech & Telecom News reports Montgomery County, Maryland is planning to launch a government-funded news Web site. Merlyn Reineke, executive director of Montgomery Community Media, which operates the two public access cable channels in the county, said he is unsure whether the county’s idea for a news site is a good one. “My basic concern is that nobody will use it,” he said.



Quick Hits

Jindal backing 'trigger' law for La. schools 

Obama budget would hurt U.S. policyholders

Climate and Energy Policies: Two Sides of the Same Coin (?)