​How Does the Governor Reconcile Her Support for Lower Electric Costs with Her Push for Renewable Energy?


All eyes on Philadelpha and the Democrat convention, of course. Thanks to Wikileaks, by the way, for furnishing an interesting Rhode Island connection for us all to speculate on.

Meanwhile, it’s important not to totally lose sight of stuff going on back in Rhode Island. The debate about a natural-gas powered electric plant proposed for Burrillville, for example, moved into the arena of the PUC this week.

The hearings are set to run Monday, Tuesday and Wednesday and will differ markedly from the public hearings that have been held so far on the application, which gave Burrillville residents and others the opportunity to air their opinions and concerns about the power plant but didn’t allow for any back and forth.

On Thursday, Governor Raimondo called into the WHJJ Morning News with Ron St. Pierre to defend her support of the plant. (Podcast.) In doing so, she said

Well, I support natural gas because I support lower energy costs and lower electricity costs for Rhode Island.

That’s a pretty categorical statement. Yet only seven months ago, the Governor signed an Executive Order

… committing state agencies to get 100 percent of its power from renewable sources by 2025

Further, in February,

A bipartisan group of 17 governors, including Governor Raimondo, have signed a pact agreeing to work together to build modern, sophisticated transmission grids and to advance clean energy and transportation technologies. Called the Governors Accord for New Energy, the agreement includes commitments to diversify energy generation and expand clean energy sources

All of these actions by Governor Raimondo are a big problem for everyone’s electric bill and a huge conflict with what she said on WHJJ. Because the dirty little not-so-secret about renewable energy is that it is far more expensive than conventional energy. Further and worse, as an important new report by the Rhode Island Center for Freedom and Prosperity demonstrates, the state’s continued pursuit of renewable energy would come at a high cost to ratepayers and taxpayers while providing an extremely poor return on greenhouse gases abated BY THE EPA’S OWN STANDARDS. In fact, the cost of renewable energy to Rhode Islanders could be as much as five times higher than the EPA recommends.

The Governor seems to want to manage her stance on energy in silos. “I’ll support the gas powered energy plant and say that I support lower electric rates and that will cover me with a lot of Rhode Islanders. Meanwhile, I’ll aggressively push renewable energy mandates onto ratepayers and taxpayers and that will satisfy the environmentalists.”

But it does not work that way, on any level. Firstly, the walls of the silos are not opaque. So everyone, whether inside a silo or outside of it, can see what she is doing in all of them. Far more importantly, the effect of her actions in one silo do not remain contained therein: what she does in one – the renewable energy silo, in this case – will most definitely have the effect – higher electric rates – that she claims to deplore as she’s standing in another.

Her words, to phrase it more plainly, do not match her actions. And that’s a real problem for the ratepayers (let’s remember, this category includes businesses) of a state that has some of the highest electric rates in the country. They very much need her actions – a wholesale repeal, not an expansion, of very expensive renewable energy mandates – to match her words when they open their electric bills every month.

  • Guest

    Governor Raimondo has no policy vision and has no idea what she wants. She seems to go with the flow whatever is popular at the time to get her name in news media.

    When Deepwater Wind comes on line later this year National Grid study indicated state government and municipalities would incur a $250,000
    total increase in electric costs which will translate into higher taxes, higher
    cost of living due to higher electric rates and local business rising prices of
    goods and services due to tax and rate increases. Due to 3.5% compounding escalator clause that $250,000 will rise 3.5% each year for 20 years topping out at over $7,000,000 last year for just combined state-wide municipalities and state government tax increase.
    Governor Raimondo welcomed Deepwater Wind to RI. as a shining star in the state’s recovery economy!
    There is no guarantee the new Burrillville gas fired power plant generated power will stay 100% in RI. What will stay is the carbon footprint it creates.
    RI is part of a Regional power grid which is at the end of the distribution line. The state is totally interconnected. Unless state of RI figures out how much actual power it uses per year an starts importing that total amount from renewable resources into RI for distribution to state offices and facilities there is no way to meet Governor Raimondo’s mandate that state
    agencies to get 100 percent of its power from renewable sources by year 2025.
    Governor Raimondo’s statement that RI has some of the highest electric rates in the nation does not hold water and is false. According to U.S. Energy Information Administration (EIA) State of Hawaii has the highest average electric rates in nation because of 70% (used to be 90%) islands
    energy comes from burning imported oil.
    However that is coming to a quick end as Hawaii moves to be first state in nation to go completely 100% renewable green energy by year 2045
    leaving RI connected to Deepwater Wind taking over first place in nation for highest electric rates with an average price of 34.5 cents/kWh over the 20 year lifetime of the Deepwater Wind/National Grid Purchase Price Agreement.
    Yes the State of Hawaii will be power 100% by renewable energy at a far lower cost than RI due to proper testing, proper planning, proper laws and proper selection of multiple renewable energy systems that work cohesively together and not knee jerk short sighted commitment to be first. HI rejected offshore wind as not being cost effective long before mainland U.S.A. was approached for development.

  • oceanstater

    Deepwater electricity is indeed expensive, I was told about 3 times the cost of conventional power. If so, renewable energy advocates need to face that reality, and what it means for consumers and our economy. But “conservatives” also need to face the costs of not addressing climate change (and also note Deepwater was to considerable extent foisted on RI by GOP Governor Carcieri.
    That said, I think Gov Raimondo has indeed been caught being inconsistent.

    • Mike678

      Really? Deep pocket wind is Caceri’s fault? To what extent? And could not the Democrat majority in the statehouse not have blocked it? Can you also provide us a link that proves C02 is causal to warming? Proves…not theorizes. Don’t worry–I’m not holding my breath,

      • oceanstater

        Mike, I’m disappointed that there is still “climate denial” in RI. CO2 as a greenhouse gas (letting sunlight in but partially blocking longer heat waves from going back into space ) is basic physics and its concentration in the atmosphere has risen from about 280 parts per million in the pre-industrial age to about 400 ppm now. And the consequences are becoming clearer – net melting of glaciers for 36 consecutive years, diminished Arctic sea ice and increased sea surface average temperature and a sea level rise of about 2.5 inches over last 20 years, 2015 warmest year in recorded history, 2016 might be even warmer, a significant increase in unusual weather events (for example 40% increase in “once in 5 year’ storm events, some of which can be expensive) and more.
        The atmosphere with its air-land-sea interfaces, the difficulty of measuring, and the vast range of scales of the various processes is inherently very complex and no 100% certainty of modelling seems possible, but it
        seems to me true conservatives should want to be prudent (one of the meanings of the word “conservative”) and reduce the risk of destabilizing our climate by reducing greenhouse gas emissions instead of in effect serving the short term interests of the fossil fuel industries.

        • Mike678


          I too am disappointed in the lack of critical thought by some–and perspective. I note the lack of proof (and selective response–Caceri?) and offer that correlation does not equal causation. BTW, you may want to look to several sources–sources that disagree with your numbers. One example: http://www.forbes.com/sites/jamestaylor/2016/01/14/2015-was-not-even-close-to-hottest-year-on-record/#4abb084523c6

          Perhaps you could also also provide links to where you got your information so that others can decide for themselves what path to take. Perhaps also show us how much Deep Water Wind (DWW) will effect global CO2 (which is .04% of the atmosphere).

          As a ‘conservative’ I conclude that DWW will have no measurable effect on CO2–if that were important—but will have a measurable effect on utility rates and the cost of doing business in this small state. So I’ll go with the known vice the theory with the realization that everything changes and we will adapt.

          Of course I can be wrong–but I tend to be skeptical when people want to sell “carbon credits” that do nothing but add cost, while those ‘self serving’ fossil fuel companies provide heat, light and the power to post…