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Soaking up green

So-called “green” energy is all the rage in Washington. But as the federal government spends billions of dollars a year to encourage the development of solar, wind or other politically correct power sources, not all observers whistle and applaud.

“Forcing green energy on the market (is) much, much more expensive” than allowing private power companies to simply buy the cheapest sources available, writes Kenneth P. Green, an environmental scientist and resident scholar at the American Enterprise Institute, in his new article, “The Myth of Green Energy Jobs: The European Experience.”

“Using Spain as a model, when you do the math, you realize that creating 3 million new green jobs could cost $2.25 trillion” — nearly a million tax dollars apiece for jobs that are likely to go away as soon as the government subsidies end.

“Green programs in Spain destroyed 2.2 jobs for every green job created, while the capital needed for one green job in Italy could create almost five jobs in the general economy,” Mr. Green writes. “Countries are cutting these programs because they realize they aren’t sustainable and they are obscenely expensive.”

And the wasteful subsidies involved in attempting to warp the economic equations to make “alternative energy” look attractive are massive.

Yes, most forms of energy enjoy some kind of government subsidy or support. Hydroelectric dams are usually operated by government agencies, for example; nuclear power benefits from legislated liability caps.

But when the Energy Information Administration worked out the costs of those “subsidies and supports” in dollars per megawatt hour in 2008, oil and natural gas received 25 cents per megawatt-hour; coal got 44 cents, hydroelectric 67 cents, and nuclear power $1.59.

The nuclear figure sounds high — until you add in the new, “green” technologies: wind power subsidized at a rate of $23.37 per megawatt-hour; solar at $24.34; “refined coal” at $29.81.

The solution? Get rid of the subsidies and do nothing.

The leader of the nation’s biggest nuclear power producer said this week Congress should get out of the way as the nation moves toward clean energy sources.

John Rowe, CEO of Chicago-based Exelon, said that in trying to boost “clean” energy — wind, solar, nuclear and natural gas — Congress and the states have enacted or proposed bills that would burden consumers, cripple markets and increase federal debt but do little to clean up the air.

In a speech to the conservative-leaning American Enterprise Institute, Mr. Rowe said his message to lawmakers is simple: “I’m asking that Congress do nothing.”

Mr. Rowe said utilities across the country are turning to “cheap” natural gas to generate electricity and do not need a clean energy standard proposed by President Obama.

Imagine that.

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