The Green Energy Plan: How Will It Affect Average Americans?

Everyone is in favor of green energy—the idea of replacing energy created by burning fossil fuels with renewable energy. Some people believe we must move aggressively, and that the planet will become uninhabitable in the next few decades unless we do so. That sounds ominous. There are, however, two problems with that scenario: 1) Which doomsday estimate should we accept? Some say the transition out of fossil fuels has to be done by the end of the century, others as soon as twelve years. 2) What will it cost our society to implement? I can’t shed any light on the timetable, other to say that past predictions have all been wrong, but I can shed some light on cost.

In order to get off energy created by consumption of oil, coal and natural gas, we would need a two-pronged approach: heavy investment in renewable technology and radically increasing the price of continued use of fossil fuels with heavy taxes to help pay for the conversion. The cost of heavy investment in renewables cannot be borne by energy companies alone given that we will be suppressing use of existing fuels, which would reduce their income and profits, leaving little for capital investment. Therefore, new personal income taxes as well as increasing the taxes on gasoline and heating fuel, would be necessary to finance massive public investment in renewables. Nothing less would accomplish the timetable of getting this done by as early as 2050. While the rich would be expected to pay heavily, the middle class and even poor people would feel the financial pain.

Let’s use a middle class family of four as an example of how the cost of green energy might be reflected. Say both parents work earning $50,000 a year each. They have two cars and currently spend $1,000 each in gasoline. Under a green energy plan, those costs would double as a result of an increase in the gasoline tax and the rising cost of traditional fuels. Their annual heating bill of $2,000 would also double as utilities would have to pay more for traditional fuels as well as bear the cost of switching over to renewables. That’s an extra $4,000 a year in living expenses. Not fun, but bearable. The real problem comes when we calculate the likely impact on food and healthcare under a green energy system.

Food prices would most likely also double in short order as the rising cost of energy would impact those producing and processing our food, transporting it to the markets and offering it in stores that consume large amounts of electricity to keep products at temperatures necessary to avoid spoilage. So, if our average family spends $200 a week on food now, their new annual food cost would remove $10,000 from their disposable income, threatening their vacations, savings and even mortgage payments.

Dramatically higher energy prices would also result in massive unemployment. The restaurant industry, for example, would crumble, as the higher cost of food would result in dining prices that would force middle class families to stop eating out entirely. Supermarkets also survive on very thin profit margins. The higher cost of electricity and food would force them to close markets in poorer communities, resulting in layoffs and malnutrition, if not starvation.

Higher energy prices would also adversely affect the healthcare industry. Hospitals consume huge amounts of electricity. Any increase in their costs would have to be passed on to customers, but the same people who are advocating implementing a green energy policy immediately also want to offer free health care. Free healthcare would have to be paid for out of taxes and with skyrocketing energy and healthcare costs, taxes would also have to skyrocket.

What if one of the parents in our example worked as a nurse at a hospital. Since she or he would be experiencing huge increases in the cost of living, they would demand raises necessary to cover those costs. Hospitals would have to pay higher wages or close their doors.

What if the other spouse managed a restaurant? Restaurant managers would be among the newly unemployed. This family which once felt secure earning $100,000 a year, would be reduced to poverty as their income is cut in half and their daily living costs—electricity, gasoline and food––double.

You might say that my cost estimates are an exaggeration and I’m only suggesting those costs to scare people, but that ignores the simple fact that green energy proponents tell us failure to implement their policies invites the end of human life. They will tell you it’s time to stop eating out, to stop owning cars, and to stop buying all those electronic gadgets. They will also tell you it’s time to grow your own food, and to sew your own clothes. Live local will be the new password.

Oh, there’s one more necessary ingredient in the green energy plan: compulsion. Since all human life is at stake we can’t afford malingerers. People will have to watch their neighbors and report anyone using excess energy, such as taking long showers, running an electric dish washer or watching more than two hours TV a day. The good part of turning in your neighbor for such violations is that we can re-establish work farms and put energy violators to work growing food for the rest of us.

If you’re not ready to find out what subsistence living is like, you have only one choice. Study the claims being made by green energy advocates to determine whether their doomsday predictions are sound. If you find they are not, then you must tell candidates who support green energy policies you won’t get their votes. If you do believe their dire predictions, then why not be the first in your community to move back to the countryside and learn shoot game and grow beans and corn to live on!

 

2 thoughts on “The Green Energy Plan: How Will It Affect Average Americans?

  1. Further support for my thesis that the green energy policy will devastate the middle class due to rising energy costs comes from the Wall Street Journal which points out the consequences of New York State’s moratorium on fracking and on allowing pipelines to transport natural gas into the state.

    Here’s the WSJ’s piece:

    Gas Shortages Give New York an Early Taste of the Green New Deal

    The combination of hydraulic fracturing and horizontal drilling—sometimes known as the “shale revolution”—has enabled Texas, Pennsylvania and other states to produce record quantities of natural gas, some of which is being frozen, loaded onto giant ships, and transported to customers in places like Chile, China and India. Thanks to the environmental policies of Gov. Andrew Cuomo, New York has missed out on this windfall.

    Now, in a preview of what life might be like under the Democrats’ proposed Green New Deal, some New Yorkers are about to face a natural-gas shortage. Consolidated Edison , an energy utility that provides gas and power to the New York City area, announced last month that beginning in mid-March it would “no longer be accepting applications for natural gas connections from new customers in most of our Westchester County service area.” The reason for the shortage is obvious: The Cuomo administration has repeatedly blocked or delayed new pipeline projects. As a Con Ed spokesman put it, there is a “lot of natural gas around the country, but getting it to New York has been the strain.”

    New York policy makers have also killed the state’s natural-gas-drilling business. In 2008 New York drillers produced about 150 million cubic feet of natural gas a day—not enough to meet all the state’s needs, but still a substantial amount. That same year legislators in Albany passed a moratorium on hydraulic fracturing, the process used to wring oil and gas out of underground rock formations. In 2015 the Cuomo administration made the moratorium permanent. By 2018 New York’s gas production had declined so much that the Energy Information Administration quit publishing numbers on it.

    New York now imports nearly all of its gas even though part of the Marcellus Shale, one of the biggest and most prolific sources of natural gas in the country, extends into the state’s Southern Tier region. To get an idea of how much gas the state might have been able to produce from the Marcellus, New Yorkers can look across the state line to Pennsylvania, which now supplies about two-thirds of the gas consumed in New York. At the end of 2018, Pennsylvania drillers were producing about 18 billion cubic feet of gas a day. That’s more gas than Canada now produces.

    By keeping its natural gas in the ground, New York has lost out on jobs and tax revenue. By 2015, some 106,000 people were directly employed by Pennsylvania’s oil and gas industry, making it a bigger employer than the state’s famous steel sector. This year Pennsylvania’s state government is expected to take in some $247 million in gas-related fees.

    New York’s government-imposed gas shortage will likely get worse. In April 2020, Entergy, the utility that owns Westchester’s Indian Point Energy Center, will permanently shutter one of the two reactors at the 2,069-megawatt nuclear facility. It will shut down the other reactor in April 2021. The closures are the result of low electricity prices and years of costly legal battles with environmental groups and state regulators. Indian Point supplies about 25% of the electricity consumed in New York City.

    According to the New York Independent System Operator, the nonprofit that manages the state’s electric grid, Indian Point’s output will be replaced by three gas-fired generators, two of which are in New York state. If utilities are already running short on gas, where will they get the fuel for the generators to replace the juice now coming from Indian Point?

    New York Public Service Commission Chairman John B. Rhodes doesn’t appear overly concerned. A few days after Con Ed announced the moratorium on new gas connections, he issued a statement saying his agency is “taking quick and diligent steps to address” the issue by pushing utilities to seek “natural gas supply alternatives.” His statement had four mentions of “clean energy” but no mentions of the word “pipeline.”

    The gas shortage means more bad news for Westchester County, which is already wobbling at the prospect of losing about 1,000 jobs when Indian Point closes. Last month Assemblywoman Amy Paulin, a Democrat from Scarsdale, told a local newspaper that the moratorium on new gas connections would “devastate” development in her district. She said the gas shortage would pose a particular problem for the development of affordable housing units.

    “This probably represents a billion dollars of development that will just stop,” said Yonkers Mayor Mike Spano in an interview with the local CBS affiliate. “These big-pocketed developers are just going to move their developments to other communities.”

    Less than two weeks after Con Ed announced the moratorium on new gas connections, the utility announced it would seek an 11% hike in residential natural-gas rates and a nearly 6% increase in residential electricity rates.

    Policies have consequences. The moratorium on gas connections in Westchester is one of the knock-on effects of the antihydrocarbon policies of the Cuomo administration, and consumers will be forced to pay the bill.

    Mr. Bryce is a Manhattan Institute senior fellow and producer of the forthcoming documentary “Juice: How Electricity Explains the World.”

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  2. Regarding your first article Peter, it will be difficult to shoot game if all the guns, rifles and ammunition are confiscated because of the ever increasing restrictions on guns.
    I am with you on the whole “Green Energy New Plan”! I just heard a geologist, who is also a Commodities trader, on the radio saying if we could ever achieve “0”% emissions, it would not effect our weather at all. In fact, the increase in carbon dioxide in our atmosphere has had the direct result of producing more food. The whole global warming is disinformation. Yes, we do have climate change as the geologic evidence has shown for millions of years.
    People need to check their information and disinformation.

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