How ‘Bout Some More (Green) Chains on Our Economy?

See, here’s the thing: If my understanding of economics were wrong, Rhode Island’s economy would be humming along right now.  Three green-energy provisions in Democrat Governor Gina Raimondo’s proposed budget just redistribute money to companies in a politically preferred industry, forcing us all to pay for profits that the market would never provide if people were free to direct their money where they wanted it to go:

“The governor wants to be as aggressive as she can be to expand clean energy sources,” Marion Gold, commissioner of the state Office of Energy Resources, said in an interview. “The three provisions send a signal to clean energy companies that Rhode Island is a good place to invest their dollars.”

The energy proposals would:

— Extend the Renewable Energy Fund another five years beyond its current scheduled expiration in 2017. The fund, which is replenished through a surcharge on all electric ratepayers in Rhode Island that totals about $2.5 million a year, is used to support grants and loans to developers of in-state renewable energy projects.

— Expand the state’s net metering program, which allows owners of renewable energy systems to sell power to offset their total electric bill. The program would allow “virtual” net metering for off-site systems and third-party ownership of systems.

— Impose a blanket exemption for renewable energy systems from municipal property taxes, unless a community actively chooses to tax the systems.

For people in the industry, it’s profits and investment returns.  For those out of it, it’s surcharges, taxes, and socialized costs.

At the House Finance hearing regarding tolls, the Republicans’ plan to redirect some money from renewable energy handouts led to the declaration that it’s one of the few growing industries in the state.  That’s because it’s heavily subsidized, and only subsidized industries are able to achieve health in this state.

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