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Some Facts on the Costs of RGGI and Solar

RGGI and Solar Combined Cost Homeowners 3 Cents Per Day

Billion Dollar Issues Completely Ignored in Christie Energy Plan

As an antidote to more of the same old “he said/she said” journalism about the so called high costs of the Regional Greenhouse Gas Initiative (RGGI) and solar programs, I thought I’d again publish a few facts.

Another classic example of this “he said/she said” dynamic  is found in today’s Bergen Record story about Governor Christie’s veto of a bill to keep NJ in the RGGI program.

The  Record reported:

He [Gov. Christie] said the program did not change energy producers’ behavior. Instead, he said, “RGGI does nothing more than impose a tax on electricity. Moreover, it creates an unlevel playing field for our resident businesses that must compete from the fourth-highest energy-cost state in the country.”

Business and conservative groups have pressed for New Jersey to leave RGGI, saying it drives up energy rates because utilities pass along the cost of their carbon credits to customers. Environmentalists have said the rate increases are minimal.

There is no need to report the RGGI cost issue that way. The actual costs are presented prominently in readily accessible public documents.

This is not some esoteric or a tangential issue either – it is the cornerstone of the Governor’s argument and the first and foremost goal of the Christie Energy Master Plan, i.e. “to drive down the costs of energy for all customers” (the plan’s #1 goal stated @ page 1).

That cost reduction goal is the primary rationale for a selectively applied  new cost benefit test targeted only on solar and renewable power incentives (see page 7), but not coal, gas an nuclear power subsidies or the full suite of external public health, environmental, and social costs (see below).

[Note: A key fundamental assumption of the Christie energy policy is that alleged high costs of  energy drive business out of the state and discourage new instate private investment and economic growth. That premise is stated on page 94 of the EMP:

Higher retail electricity prices may cause industrial and commercial entities to  relocate, while reducing the likelihood of new manufacturing capability being formed in New Jersey (111).

Given the importance of this premise, I checked out footnote 111, which is cited as “CEEEP Solar Report, December 27, 2010 (page 1).”

I called the Rutgers Professor in charge of the modeling and reviewed the document cited.

The Rutgers professor confirmed the fact that the CEEEP Report cited DOES NOT support this statement – the analysis does NOT provide evidence to support or itself find that high energy costs “may cause industrial and commercial entities to  relocate, while reducing the likelihood of new manufacturing capability being formed in New Jersey.”

Christie energy policy is founded on myth and ideology - and I caught them red handed in misrepresenting Rutgers Reports in an attempt to support that myth.

Back let’s get to RGGI costs – which are not highly complex or economic modeling issues subject to interpretation and reasonable debate,  for example, like huge issues that are ignored and/or not quantified, including:

  • $120 billion annual environmental costs of coal power
  • social costs of carbon
  • multi-billion dollar net benefits of environmental regulations
  • subsidies to the energy industry
  • (or some of the other absurd aspects of NJ energy policy).
  • In contrast to these complex issues, we are talking about simple facts here.

    I have published the RGGI cost data, provided links to it, and written about them here – e.g. see “Fact Check Christie Claims on Energy”.

    I regularly send emails with these facts (with links to the published documents) to the press corps in complaints about misleading claims by a range of lunatics and liars, including Governor Christie, Steve Lonagan, the Koch Brothers funded and created Americans for Prosperity and their Tea-bagging associates, the NJ Chamber of Commerce and NJ Business and Industry Association (and all their fellow traveling “Kingpins of Climate denial”.

    The facts have been presented in credible expert testimony to the Legislature.

    During those same hearings, the spin and lies of the lunatics have been challenged aggressively and exposed by Legislators in at least 3 legislative hearings.

    Despite all this, I have never once seen them published in the main stream media (with the exception of Bill Potter, who has done so at NJ Spotlight).

    Nor have I seen the Governor called out  or held accountable for what are, at best, gross exaggerations and falsehoods.

    The facts are not subject to dispute – they are provided in Governor Christie’s own draft Energy Master Plan (EMP)..

    These FACTS illustrate gross distortions – and downright lies -  by the Governor, his supporters, and the aforementioned RGGI and solar opponents.

    So, once again, here they are (cut and paste and put it on the refrigerator):

  • According to BPU data, the average residential monthly bill is $129.59.
  • The so called high cost of subsidy to solar you hear so much about is $0.63/month (no typo, that 63 cents per MONTH).
  • RGGI cost is even LESS – $0. 42/month – that’s 42 cents per month.
  • Sources: EMP. See Table 4 (page 50); Table 5 (p. 53) and Figure 27 (p. 51)

    Are you willing to pay $1.05 PER MONTH for RGGI and solar? (and that cost does not include significant benefits)

    The Governor and his global warming denying head of the BPU feel that those costs are too high.

    We are not fans of RGGI or similar market based trading schemes. But if the Democrats are serious in seeking to over-ride the Governor’s veto on RGGI, we hope they get serious and fix RGGI.

    Because while Gov. Christie has made numerous misleading claims about RGGI, he is half right in saying it is broken in terms of failure to make emissions reductions.

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