NCPA - National Center for Policy Analysis


May 8, 2007

The Senate may soon vote to require that 15 percent of domestic energy production come from alternative sources by 2020.  Welcome to the People's Republic of America, says Investor's Business Daily.

There is nothing inherently wrong with alternative energy sources, but government should not be picking winners and losers in the economy, says IBD.  New technologies take off when they are practical, cost-efficient and beneficial -- qualities that can't yet be ascribed to so-called "renewable" energy like wind and solar power. 


  • After more than 30 years and $14 billion of government subsidies, wind, solar and biomass fuels together supply only 3 percent of America's electricity, says Marlo Lewis, senior fellow at the Competitive Enterprise Institute.
  • Besides their still-high cost, the main drawback of solar and wind is that they are intermittent.
  • There's no economic way to store the electrical energy for use at night, on cloudy or windless days, and during peak periods.

Take Hawaii, for example.  Despite plenty of ocean breezes and lots of Pacific sunshine, it has struggled with its own alternative fuel mandate to produce one-fifth of the state's energy from renewable sources:

  • So far, solar power has not proven feasible for Hawaii for generating electricity; although solar-powered water heaters are in widespread use, the state still imports 90 percent of its energy.
  • The Big Island has a wind farm with 16 turbines turned by the tropical ocean breezes. The 100-foot turbines can generate enough electricity for 1,200 homes.
  • One recent afternoon, the breezes died and so did the power from eight of the turbines, forcing the local utility to get its power the old-fashioned way.

Source: Editorial, "Inheriting the Wind," Investor's Business Daily, May 8, 2007.


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