What is “cost” for renewable energy standards?

 The Bloomberg article on industry lobbying against renewable power standards  contains, in addition to details related to Carbon on the City, an interesting item.

force them to boost electricity generated by wind, solar and other forms of renewable energy to 15 percent of the U.S. total by 2020. That’s up from less than 2 percent today, and is a move the industry says would cost at least $67 billion.

Not surprisingly, there is no exploration or explanation of that cost estimate.  A cost estimate that almost certainly is not meaningful from a societal standpoint, even if it might (MIGHT) have meaning for some corporations. What I wonder, in terms of “costs”, are the answers to the questions that are after the fold.

  1.  Cost to whom?  Who are they talking about?
  1.  Is this total cost without considering any benefit? For example, on construction of wind farms, are they counting a value of the generated electricity at all?  (To exaggerate their point, they quite likely are not.)
  1.  They almost certainly are not considering system benefits.  For example, Europe is finding that introduction of renewables, even at ‘higher’ than average electricity costs, is helping to moderate overall electricity costs and actually, at this time, actually leading to lower system costs.  (This has been, as I understand it, somewhat of a surprise.)
  1.  Without a doubt, when discussing “costs”, any discussion of “benefits” will be totally excluding “external costs” which this industry rejects as a concept legitimate for discussion. Thus, if this could lead to somewhat lower respiratory diseases due to lower particulates in the air, of course that benefit can’t be put into the balance sheet for consideration. (My view: perhaps not their balance sheet, but certainly society’s. And, that is why we have laws …)
  1. Assume that they are assuming most pessimistic scenarios for renewables and most positive for fossil fuels. (No Peak Natural Gas, with skyrocketing prices. No coal cost increases. Etc …)

And, all of that before considering carbon. 

This is something meriting further examination.


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