'That’s right - $1,219 per household in higher electricity costs for the 71,000 residents of Georgetown, Texas, all thanks to the decision of its Republican mayor, Dale Ross, to launch a bold plan to shift the city’s municipal utility to 100 percent renewable power in 2012...'
But while Ross was being lauded far and wide, the residents of his town were paying a steep price. His decision to bet on renewables resulted in the city budget getting dinged by a total of $29.8 million in the four years from 2015 to 2018. Georgetown’s electric costs were $3.5 million over budget in 2015, ballooning to $6.3 million in 2016, the same year the mayor locked his municipal utility into 20- and 25-year wind and solar energy contracts to make good on his 100 percent renewable pledge. By 2017, the mayor’s green gamble was undercut by the cheap natural gas prices brought about by the revolution in high-tech fracking. Power that year cost the city’s budget $9.5 million more than expected, rising to $10.5 million last year, according to budget documents reported by The Williamson County Sun.
Mark Mathis: 'The idea of a tax on carbon is that it will cause people to use smaller amounts of oil, natural gas, and coal while driving innovation in the energy sector. But there’s a big problem with this kind of blindered thinking. Energy is not like any other commodity. It is the foundational component of all commodities and our options are extremely limited...'
'On the electricity side, the grid requires a constant flow of electrons. Sixty-three percent of this power comes from fossil fuels, 20 percent from nuclear, and about seven percent from hydroelectric. That’s 90 percent! Wind and solar combined provide only 7.6 percent, but even this small number is deceptive. Wind and solar are intermittent, so they require baseload sources (mostly natural gas) to keep the electricity flowing when they aren’t performing...
'Then there’s mining, which is also heavily dependent on oil, natural gas, and coal. In order to significantly ramp up wind and solar energy we correspondingly have to accelerate mining. The key ingredients in renewable energy technologies are rare earth minerals. It takes a large amount of fossil fuel to extract them...'
'Fossil fuels are deeply embedded in every aspect of the modern world. Trying to get people to use less of them by making everything more expensive and then giving people money back through an inefficient government-controlled program is a flawed premise from start to finish.'