How Electricity Becomes A Luxury

001Former Environmental Minister Jurgen Tritten of the Green Party once claimed that switching Germany to renewable energy wasn’t going to cost citizens more than one scoop of ice cream.  Today, his successor Altmaier readily admits that consumers are paying enough to “eat everything on the ice cream menu.”

German consumers already pay the highest electricity rates in Europe.  But since the government has failed to get the cost of its new green energy policy under control, electricity is fast becoming a luxury good.

This year alone, German consumers will be forced to pay $26 billion for electricity generated from solar, wind and biogas plants – electricity with a market price of just over $3 billion euros.  But even the $26 billion figure is disputable when you include all the unintended costs and collateral damage associated with going green.   Wind turbines and solar panels at times generate huge amounts of electricity and sometimes – none at all.  Depending on the weather and the time of day, the country can face absurd states of energy surplus or deficit.

When too much power comes into the grid, turbines have to be shut down but consumers are still paying for the “phantom electricity” the turbines are “theoretically” generating.  Then there are those times when  Germany has to pay fees just to dump already subsidized green energy creating what experts call “negative electricity prices.”

When the wind quits blowing, in particular during the winter months, electricity becomes scarce.  Then Germany has to fire up all those heavy oil and coat plants to close the gap which is why in 2012, Germany’s energy production actually released more carbon dioxide into the atmosphere than it did in 2011.

When businesses are asked to shut down production to protect the power grid, consumers must pay to compensate the business for lost profits.   Now the government says the surcharge to finance new grids will increase electricity rates anywhere from 0.2 to 0.4 cents per kilowatt-hour next year on top of all the other taxes, subsidy fees, and surcharges consumers already pay.

Saving energy is good but only if you can afford it.  Lower income residents in Germany are already having to choose between spending money on expensive energy-saving bulbs and appliances to cut their electric bill or serving their families hot meals.  In the near future, an average three person household can expect to spend 90 euros a month, double the 2000 price.

Today more than 300,000 households a year are seeing their power shut off because of unpaid bills. German lawmakers pushing this green boondoggle have largely ignored the damage their policies are inflicting on consumers.

Renewable energy subsides redistribute money from the poor to the more affluent, like when someone living in a small rental apartment subsidizes a homeowner’s roof mounted solar panels through their electric bill.  About 2,300 businesses have managed to largely exempt themselves from the green surcharge by claiming, often with little justification, that they face tough international competition while companies with less lobbying power are required to pay the surcharge.

More and more wind turbines are turning in Germany and solar panels are basking in the sun, yet the amount of pollutants and greenhouse gases increased.  A study released last week by the Federal Network Agency showed that energy generated with coal will remain virtually stable, at 148 terawatt-hours, until 2022, reaching the conclusion that coal’s competitive position will be “hardly diminished by an increasing share of renewable energy in the mix.”

You can read “Germany’s Energy Poverty” published at Spiegel On-line, in full at this link.

Don’t think this could ever become a reality in America?  Think again. 

I would image that the Brits thought the same thing when they fell under the spell of the greens.  But, according to a BBC survey, one in four people in the UK were left shivering in their homes last winter because of high electric rates.  Government official figures show that the “fuel poverty gap” has jumped by more than 12% in the last two years.

The Labor Party in Australia is suffering a potential dramatic loss because the prime minister  lied to voters and formed a coalition government with the backing of the greens to stay in power.  Of course the greens insisted she place a carbon tax on those nasty fossil fuel polluters. The government estimated the tax would only cost the average person less than $10 a week.  In New South Wales, household electricity plans have risen more than 110% between July 2007 to June 2013, although only 9% of that amount is attributable to the carbon tax.  The rest is for power transmission and distribution of all that clean green energy.

“The world is made up, for the most part of fools and knaves, both irreconcilable foes to the truth.”  George Villiers


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