4/26/18, Maine First Media Staff Report,
The more things change, the more they stay the same.
Maine First Media came across a six-year-old Bangor Daily News op-ed from Gov. Paul LePage’s Special Advisor on Energy, James LaBrecque.
Six years ago, Leftist — in the pocket of the solar and wind energy lobbies — were pushing for so-called “alternative energy.” But NOT hydropower, which would actually lower electric costs for Maine families. Apparently, the hydro industry doesn’t have lobbyists with deep enough pockets.
And six years ago, LaBrecque was making the case that any legislation forcing alternative energy, should factor in actual costs and that the energy supply should be able to stand on its own feet, without government subsidies.
Listen to LaBrecque’s latest appearance on the George Hale and Ric Tyler Show on WVOM. He’s making the same points. It’s six years later, and Leftists and these Green Crony Corporatists are still pushing for failed energy policies.
At about the four-minute mark, LaBrecque makes an excellent point: What if swamp politicians had to convince the Shark Tank panel before spending your tax dollars on their pet projects? What if they had to explain the return on investment for Mainers to a team of experts? LaBrecque argues under that scenario; we’d seen policies focused on lowering energy bills for Mainers, instead of focusing on appeasing fat-cat lobbyists in Augusta.
After the commercial break, LaBrecque is asked a very familiar question. Why isn’t Maine better-utilizing hydropower? It’s a fair question; hydropower is readily available thanks to our neighbors across the northern border. Hydropower has a proven track record of lowering energy costs. And an increase in hydropower would lessen our reliance on oil.
LaBrecque points out; the question needs to be posed to Maine Democrats, who repeatedly vote against expanding hydropower — even while other New England states turn to this reliable solution.
The energy industry is dictated by technological advancements. We see the technology around us improving every day. But as you can read in the op-ed below — written six years ago — the energy policy debate isn’t keeping up with the times.
By James LaBrecque and Joshua Hayward, Special to the BDN •
At a basic level, the word “alternative” simply means another choice without reference to quality or benefit.
To some, “alternative energy” is a misnomer originated at the onset of the first oil embargo in 1973 when promises associated with cost and performance of power systems like solar and wind were made long before their physical capabilities were known.
The purpose of this article is to begin understanding the economic viability of alternative energy choices.
Cost is defined in economic terms as “the value of money that has been used up to produce something, and hence is not available for use anymore.” We must be sure that cost is understood amidst the fog of grants, government subsidies, tax credits or any other means of paying for these projects beyond privately sourced dollars. Government funding only changes the source of the money to pay for alternative energy systems but not the “cost” of the product. We all pay the “cost” no matter what governmental scheme is used. It is important to understand the definition of cost in order to determine the economic viability of alternative energy purchase.
The state and federal governments are remiss for lacking a definition that quantifies “viable” alternative energy solutions (i.e., one-year payback) from impractical choices (i.e., 200-year payback), therefore the most impractical alternatives receive the same recognition and government benefits as the most practical choices at the detriment of losing the circulation of good money that could otherwise be more wisely invested on behalf of the taxpayers.
For instance a $16,500 wind turbine that can’t produce enough power to keep a 100-watt light bulb going for a full year presently receives a 30 percent federal tax credit of $5,000, a state tax credit and a rebate from Efficiency Maine which was collected from electricity rate payers.
Does that make sense?
Legislation typically includes, in boiler plate form, the phrase “alternatives such as solar, wind and geothermal” when reflecting on government incentives without regard for the issue of economic viability.
The only qualification to receive government incentives is that the project has to be an alternative such as solar, wind or geothermal. The incentive is received no matter how poor the economic return is on a given alternative choice.
Legislation defining viable alternative energy solutions should include cost legitimacy and assurances that government money is not used to support or encourage nonviable alternative energy funds at the expense of forgoing good investments.