Nevadans enjoy some of the lowest electricity prices in the nation. However, Question 6 on the Nevada ballot could put that in peril. If voters agree that at least half the electricity in Nevada must be generated from renewable sources, families will likely experience a $2,000-per-year increase in their annual energy costs. If approved, Nevadans would impose on themselves the same expensive, unreliable energy that is driving people, money, businesses, and jobs out of California.
Question 6 would require Nevada to replace much of its affordable energy for costly wind and solar power. Despite the fact that they receive monumental taxpayer subsidies, their costs will become even more exorbitant. According to the U.S. Energy Information Administration (EIA), wind power receives more taxpayer subsidies than all conventional energy sources combined. EIA reports solar power also receives more taxpayer subsidies than all conventional energy sources combined. Even with all these handouts, wind and solar power cannot compete with conventional energy. Furthermore, the liberal Brookings Institution reports in its study, “Why the Best Path to a Low-Carbon Future Is Not Wind or Solar Power,” that replacing conventional power with wind power raises electricity costs 50 percent, and replacing conventional power with solar power triples electricity costs. A Heartland Institute study also found that electricity prices are rising 50 percent faster in states with renewable power mandates than in states without renewable power mandates.
It is precisely because wind and solar power are so expensive that the environmental Left pushes so hard for renewable power mandates. Without the mandates, people will not choose to purchase wind and solar power that is so much more expensive than conventional power.
California provides a good comparison with Nevada. California has aggressively pursued wind and solar power and suffers from some of the most restrictive wind and solar power mandates in the country. As a result, electricity prices in California are nearly double Nevada those in the Silver State. People, businesses, and jobs are fleeing California’s high energy and living costs and moving to more affordable Nevada and Arizona. The environmental Left wants to put a stop to that.
Liberal San Francisco billionaire Tom Steyer, rather than Nevadans or Arizonans, created and is funding the initiatives to impose 50-percent renewable power mandates in the Nevada and Arizona constitutions. It is a tragic irony that Nevadans have had limited input in the language of Question 6’s proposed amendment to the Nevada constitution. Tom Steyer is calling the shots from San Francisco. In addition to devising the language of Question 6, Steyer has personally provided at least $6 million of the $6.38 million raised to promote Question 6. He hopes that if he and his liberal friends can force Nevadans and Arizonans to suffer the same high energy prices as California, then perhaps money and jobs will stop flowing from California to Nevada and Arizona.
People want to believe, even if wind and solar power are now so expensive, that the day will come when wind and solar power are affordable. Scientists and economists can debate whether that day will ever come, but Question 6 would never allow people or policymakers to make an informed decision on that question. By imposing a 50 percent renewable power mandate in the Nevada Constitution, Nevada consumers, policymakers, or energy providers could not respond to scientific or economic developments to ensure Nevadans utilize the most affordable, abundant energy sources. Nevadans would be locked in to wind and solar power, regardless of how expensive and unreliable wind and solar remain.
James Taylor ([email protected]) is senior fellow for environment policy at The Heartland Institute.