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‘Green’ Extremists May Have Moved Too Quickly

For years, the ultra-green crowd has been forcing Californians to abandon reliable energy sources in favor of so-called alternatives such as solar and wind power. That has resulted in some of the highest prices for electricity in the nation, as well as reduced reliability seen during brownouts last summer.

California’s policies on energy and other issues are driving some high-tech manufacturers to other states. Just during the past few months, Tesla, Hewlett Packard and Oracle have revealed plans to relocate their headquarters.

So, how do you get away with jacking up energy prices without spurring a revolt by the people?

Partly by disguising what you’re doing. In 2019, the last year for which federal statistics are available, the average price of electricity for residential customers in California was 19.5 cents per hundred kilowatt hours. The average price for industrial customers was 13.4 cents, or 68.7% of the residential charge.

Compare that to West Virginia, at 11.25 cents for residential customers and 53.5% of that for industries.

Bottom line: California shifts more of the burden of high power prices to industries. That holds residential prices down artificially –and keeps Golden State residents from becoming angry about unnecessarily high electric bills.

What do you do if people are starting to notice your regulatory state is becoming less competitive for job creators? You force other states to increase their electricity prices by shifting away from fossil fuels, of course. In league with other high-power price states that have political clout (Massachusetts’ rates are even higher than California’s), you mount a nationwide campaign to kill the coal-fired power industry.

We know what happened as a result. Here in West Virginia, we were paying an average of just 5.61 cents per 100 KW in 2008. Then, former president Barack Obama launched his war on coal, shutting down many of our power plants fueled by that source of energy. Now, we pay 8.72 cents — 51% more than in 2008.

The war on coal took away part of the competitive edge we had against states such as California and Massachusetts.

Another tactic the Californians use is buying electricity from other states where power plants don’t have to comply with Golden State limits. California is, by far, the largest net importer of electricity in nation.

Here’s the good part: The environmental extremists’ rush to kill fossil fuels may be about to bite them.

As I warned years ago, the war on coal was only a beginning. Even as the extremists were demanding that we shut down coal-fired power plants and to go cleaner natural gas-fueled ones, they were planning to go after gas, too.

Demands that hydraulic fracturing be outlawed (it is in some states) followed. Without “fracking,” Americans would not be enjoying the cheap gas (and gasoline) we have now. There would be far less gas available and it would be much more costly.

Most of California’s electricity is generated at gas-fired power plants. Without it, Golden State residents wouldn’t be worrying about temporary brownouts. They’d be rebelling against long-term blackouts.

So the extremists may have moved too quickly for their own good. One can only disguise higher-than-necessary utility bills for so long. Explaining why your state is rationing electricity — an inevitable result of the rush to kill fossil fuels — is a different story.

Myer can be reached at: mmyer@theintelligencer.net.

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