Dems' Energy Bill Hurts Economy

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The Colorado Freedom

Dems' Energy Bill Hurts Economy

by Ari Armstrong, April 17, 2007

The Democrats' strategy to "Energize Our Economy" in Colorado is to increase utility bills, destroy real wealth, and impose more central controls on the energy industry.

A March 28 story by Gargi Chakrabarty in the Rocky Mountain News states: "Gov. Bill Ritter signed a bill into law Tuesday that requires Colorado utilities to get more electricity from the sun, wind, or plant and animal waste. House Bill 1281 sailed smoothly through the state legislature... The law requires utilities to get 20 percent of their electricity from renewable sources such as the sun, wind or biomass by 2020 -- double the goal of 10 percent by 2015 set by Amendment 37, which voters passed in November 2004. Customers eventually would pay the cost incurred by utilities to comply with the renewable standards."

So Ritter and the Gang have made sure our energy bills will go up. But did Ritter tell the truth about the bill? Did he say something like, "Yes, this bill destroys real wealth and raises your utility bills, but I'm going for the environmentalist vote here?" No.

Instead, Ritter said, "The signing of this bill today says to the rest of the country, 'We are open for business'," according to Chakrabarty. The reporter continues, "He referred to the decision by the Denmark-based Vestas to open a $59.9 million manufacturing facility in Windsor to make windmill blades that will employ more than 400 people as an impact of the law. Ritter said he expects other companies to follow Vestas and come to Colorado."

So, yes, some people will have jobs that they would not otherwise have had. But is this a net increase in "business?" What Ritter conveniently neglects to mention is that this money will be forcibly extracted from other segments of the economy. The 400 jobs making windmill blades will come at the expense of jobs in other fields. If the more-valued use of the funds were to build windmill blades, then people would put their money there in order to make the best return -- no political force would be required. So, because Colorado politicians are forcibly transferring resources from more-valued uses to less-valued uses, they are destroying real wealth. Any claim of net economic benefit is sheer nonsense.

In a February 23 column, Vincent Carroll (also of the Rocky) discusses a report by Environment Colorado: "In one of my favorite lines, the report notes that 'a variety of studies confirm that renewable energy generates more jobs per unit energy produced than fossil-fuel technologies on an absolute basis -- not taking into account the amount of money that stays within the local economy.' This is a good thing, we are led to believe, and maybe it is. Then again, if you had read that 'a variety of studies confirm that General Motors generates more jobs per vehicle produced than Toyota,' would you also applaud? Might you wonder if GM were less efficient?"

To rephrase the line from Environment Colorado: "renewable" energy requires more labor to produce the same amount of energy. It's crazy to believe that using more resources to produce the same amount of output is economically beneficial. So obviously the claim about "more jobs" is not put forth as a serious argument. Instead, it is a tip to certain special-interests that they will gain by the forcible redistribution of wealth. And it may pass as a "reason" for economic illiterates and those so blinded by their prior ideological commitment to environmentalism that they believe that ignorance is strength and waste is gain.

If the environmentalists and their supporting politicians actually took their own claims seriously, they would not stop at forcing a mere 20 percent "renewable" energy. They would require a full 100 percent. After all, if generating "more jobs" to produce energy is good, if that makes Colorado "open for business," then let's really open up for business by requiring that all energy used in Colorado must be "renewable." And why wait till 2020? Think of all the additional jobs that could be generated if we moved up the schedule, say to 2010. Just think of all the people who could be producing windmill blades!

Yet, in an April 17 e-mail (dated April 15 in the subject line), House Speaker Andrew Romanoff claims that Central Plan 1281 will somehow "Energize Our Economy." At least the guy's got guile.

The Colorado Freedom