'Green energy' deal finds few takers in liberal Austin, TX

Thomas Lifson
Despite the dreams of mush heads, alternative energy sources remain economically marginal, meaning they cost a lot. The latest experiment in selling "green energy" is running into consumer price resistance in ultra-liberal Austin, TX. Marty Toohey of the Austin American-Statesman reports:

For the past decade, Austin's ambition to become the world's clean-energy capital has been best exemplified by one effort: GreenChoice, a program that sells electricity generated entirely from renewable sources such as wind.

Now the nationally renowned program is struggling to find buyers - the latest allotment is 99 percent unsold after seven months on the market - and Austin Energy is looking for ways to bring down the rising costs.

In a normal market, a product that finds few buyers is a disaster for the producer. But, as is the case with so many alternative energy projects, market failure just means other people (in this case, the rate payers of the electrical utility) are on the hook to pay for the economic disaster.

Duncan [Roger Duncan, the head of Austin Energy and the chief architect of GreenChoice] said part of the solution might just be adding new wind, solar and other renewable-energy projects into the bills of all Austin Energy customers, which could increase rates for everyone. He said there are also numerous other policies being considered but declined to discuss them, saying only that they will be proposed publicly in the near future.

To co-opt an old greenie catch-phrase, reality bats last. Force-feeding alternative energy sources leads to uneconomical decisions, and ends up subsidizing the moral vanity of guilt-ridden greenies. Sadly the costs of this folly will be borne by the general public.
Despite the dreams of mush heads, alternative energy sources remain economically marginal, meaning they cost a lot. The latest experiment in selling "green energy" is running into consumer price resistance in ultra-liberal Austin, TX. Marty Toohey of the Austin American-Statesman reports:

For the past decade, Austin's ambition to become the world's clean-energy capital has been best exemplified by one effort: GreenChoice, a program that sells electricity generated entirely from renewable sources such as wind.

Now the nationally renowned program is struggling to find buyers - the latest allotment is 99 percent unsold after seven months on the market - and Austin Energy is looking for ways to bring down the rising costs.

In a normal market, a product that finds few buyers is a disaster for the producer. But, as is the case with so many alternative energy projects, market failure just means other people (in this case, the rate payers of the electrical utility) are on the hook to pay for the economic disaster.

Duncan [Roger Duncan, the head of Austin Energy and the chief architect of GreenChoice] said part of the solution might just be adding new wind, solar and other renewable-energy projects into the bills of all Austin Energy customers, which could increase rates for everyone. He said there are also numerous other policies being considered but declined to discuss them, saying only that they will be proposed publicly in the near future.

To co-opt an old greenie catch-phrase, reality bats last. Force-feeding alternative energy sources leads to uneconomical decisions, and ends up subsidizing the moral vanity of guilt-ridden greenies. Sadly the costs of this folly will be borne by the general public.