Hope you have an extra $12,000 in your checking account.
That’s how much the Green New Deal could increase the average Texas households’ annual electricity bills, according to new research unveiled by the Texas Public Policy Foundation (TPPF). An in-depth analysis of Texas electric utility data shows that transitioning Texas to 100% wind and solar electricity generation by 2030 would cause yearly costs to increase nearly tenfold.
For a resolution that claims to fight economic injustice as well as climate change, the Green New Deal isn’t much of a deal after all.
TPPF researchers found that if the Green New Deal’s renewable energy directive was fully implemented by 2030, the annual cost of powering Texas would rise from $13 billion today to a whopping $120 billion.
Of course, $120 billion is an unthinkable, almost laughable, burden to saddle the people of Texas with. But unfortunately, champions of the Green New Deal are deadly serious.
Getting renewables from 8% to 100% of our electric generation nationwide isn’t a problem of politics, but of scale and physics. Even a partial switch to renewables would be prohibitively expensive. Transitioning Texas to just 50% wind and solar by 2030—a relatively modest increase, given that we are the number one state for renewable generation—would cause annual costs to rise by 250%.
And those numbers don’t take into account a large-scale rollout of electric vehicles, which would increase electricity demand and further increase costs to consumers and businesses.
The financial expense isn’t the only issue with one-size-fits-none renewable mandates like the Green New Deal and other pricey proposals by presidential contenders. Ironically, they also come with a colossal cost to our environment—instead of a benefit.
Wind and solar power are by nature less dense than fossil fuels, meaning they require more land to produce. Going 100% renewable would require nearly 5 million acres of wind turbines, solar panels, and battery storage, more than 10 times the amount of land currently used for electricity generation. The miles of transmission lines are conservatively estimated to increase 70% and require another 1.2 million acres, bringing the total land use to more than 6 million acres, more than five times the size of Harris County.
The environmental impact of this buildout cannot be overstated. Using less dense energy sources will unnecessarily increase our footprint on the earth, require government appropriation of private property through eminent domain, and almost certainly affect sensitive wildlife habitat. Renewable doesn’t equal cheap—or environmentally friendly.
Worse yet, going all-renewable will have no discernible climate benefit. Even if we could achieve a total overhaul of our energy system by 2030, climate models used by the United Nations indicate it would have no practical effect. Converting to solely wind and solar electricity would cut global temperatures by less than two hundredths of a degree Celsius in 2050 and just four hundredths in 2100.
The Green New Deal is a bad deal for Texas, and the skyrocketing costs and lost jobs aren’t worth the multibillion-dollar expense.
Proponents of the expansive climate programs like the Green New Deal don’t recognize that few of the world’s great achievements have come from top-down, one-size-fits-all government mandates. Throughout human history, the best solutions have come from private citizens rolling up their sleeves and creating their own innovative approaches to the challenges facing them.
The power of the free market, not the power of government, will continue to grow prosperity and reduce poverty worldwide through the power of reliable, affordable, dense, and abundant energy.
Environmental policy should serve mankind, not the other way around.
The Honorable Jason Isaac is Senior Manager and Distinguished Fellow of Life:Powered, a national initiative to raise America’s energy IQ. He previously served four terms in the Texas House of Representatives. Follow him on Twitter at @ISAACforTexas.