In a rather disingenuous study, the U.S. Energy Information Administration concludes (PDF link) that energy costs in 2030 will be little changed with the implementation of a 25-percent renewable electricity standard as proposed in the American Clean Energy and Security Act.

Opponents of renewable energy normally rely on economic arguments to bash wind, solar and related electricity generating technologies. Renewable energy is expensive and threatens to make consumers suffer dramatically higher electricity rates, while making U.S. industry uncompetitive the argument goes.

But the Energy Information Administration, part of the Department of Energy, has concluded that the price increase fears are overblown. This week, the EIA released “Impacts of a 25% Renewable Electricity Standard,” finding electricity rates will be mostly unmoved if the federal government requires utilities to generate more power from renewable sources. Massachusetts Democratic representative Edward Markey, who is working hard to push an RES through Congress as part of the American Clean Energy and Security Act, requested the report.

The EIA concludes that if the U.S. were to get 25% of its electricity from renewable sources by 2025, as Markey proposes, demand for coal and natural gas would slacken, and the price of dirty fuels would subsequently fall. Savings from lower fossil fuel bills will offset the additional cost utilities face in putting up solar farms and the like.

The result: Electricity rates could inch up by 3% or so in 2025 with renewables, versus a conventional power mix. But by 2030, lower coal and natural gas costs will be fully taken into account by utilities, with electricity costs a wash. Potential benefits of a renewables policy could be lower natural gas prices for home heating, cooking and industrial use as well.

Of course, with the climate change police investigating carbon emissions worldwide, no one would have incentive to increase their generating capacity from coal or gas, even though their prices might be depressed.

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