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Cost of Electrification: A State-by-State Analysis and Results

September 17, 2020

Transitioning the entire electric grid to a 100 percent carbon dioxide emissions free, largely renewable energy is a poor choice for decarbonizing the economy, wasting billions of dollars.

Tom Tanton, president of T2 & Associates, an energy and technology consulting firm, who is also  director of Science and Technology at Energy and Environment Legal Institute, has produced a a state-by-state report on the capital cost associated with “electrification” for states and the nation. In particular, Tanton assesses the costs and results of attempts to transition the entire electric power grid in the United States in using renewable power in an attempt to eliminate emissions of greenhouse gases from fossil fuels used to generate electricity.

The report concludes electrifying the entire nation, with a goal of eliminating the direct consumption of fuel and reducing climate change emissions, would cost between $18 trillion and $29 trillion, with going all renewable forcing costs to the high end of the range. Additional, typically unaccounted for costs of attempting to impose an “all-electric” nation, include stranded assets and deadweight losses.

In addition, Tanton finds, “electrification will destroy decades of diversification by the market, tying consumers to a fragile yet monolithic electric grid. The electric grid is ill-equipped for extreme conditions, like extended heat waves or polar vortex cold snaps, without blackouts, like just happened in California,” with the likelihood of outages increasing as the politically influenced demand for electric cars increases and natural gas and appliances that use natural gas are from buildings. Tanton finds building” a more robust grid to handle such extremes would add perhaps $7 trillion to the costs.”

Among its findings for particular states, the report notes Texas have the highest green electrification costs topping $3.157 trillion, followed by California at $2.823 trillion. And the per capita costs imposed on households of such an destructive experiment would be tremendous. For example, each resident of Louisiana could their energy costs to rise  $166,065 during and after the transition, while Wyoming citizens would be on the hook for $158,961 apiece, and those in North Dakota would face a tab of $133,847.

Tom Tanton is the Director of Science and Technology Assessment for E&E Legal. He is also a policy advisor to The Heartland Institute. @TantonTalkback