Limited potential and cheaper alternatives cited by experts as main reasons for avoiding mandates
NEW ORLEANS, La. – Louisiana and seven other Southeastern states consistently refuse to impose renewable energy mandates on electric companies.
Louisiana, Alabama, Arkansas, Georgia, Kentucky, Mississippi, South Carolina and Tennessee are the only states to avoid imposing mandatory and voluntary alternative energy quotas on utility companies.
For example, New York policymakers mandated that energy companies either pay stiff fines or generate 25 percent of their electricity through renewable energy sources by 2013, while in North Dakota, utility companies have voluntary programs that do not include penalties.
“The Southeast has the lowest wind energy potential of all regions, and wind is the energy source that is used to achieve virtually all renewable electricity mandates in the U.S.”
However, Yeatman says that even though the Southeast has limited renewable energy potential, that does not mean renewable energy mandates are a good idea in the northwest, northeast or the southwest, rather, “It is to say that renewable energy is even more uneconomical in the southeast than in the rest of the country.”
This competitive advantage is evident in the prices residents in Louisiana and other Southeastern states pay for energy. The Southeast has some of the lowest electricity bills in the country, thus making politicians skeptical of imposing government mandates, which would raise costs for power companies and raise prices for consumers.
Dr. Walter Block, economics professor at Loyola University, claims that customers should have a choice between traditional and renewable energy sources.
“Nuclear, coal, oil and gas are far cheaper than wind, water, solar and geothermal. The only reason the latter are used at all is because of heavy subsidies, and taxes on the former.”
In 2009, Louisiana ranked 30th in the country for renewable energy by generating only 4 percent of their energy from renewable sources, mainly from wood waste and hydro conventional plants.
However, the Department of Energy recently awarded Louisiana State University $997,000 for a project to evaluate the feasibility of an advanced geothermal energy project in the Pelican state.
The only Southeastern state to mandate that electricity companies generate a certain portion of their power from renewable sources is North Carolina, who, in 2007, passed a law requiring municipal power companies and cooperatives to get 10 percent of their electricity from renewable sources by 2018.