Taxpayers To Pay Trillions for Net-Zero Power

Solar and wind energy
Solar and wind energy | Image by Jason Winter/Shutterstock

The United States is charting a course toward net-zero emissions for electricity generation that could cost taxpayers trillions to transmit power from production sites to population centers.

Texas is at the heart of the issue as the nation’s leader in wind power and a rising producer of solar power. Still, the cost of transmitting the power created to population centers could cost taxpayers trillions, according to reporting by RealClearEnergy.

The Texas Public Policy Foundation (TPPF) reports that clean energy generation projects in the state have significantly lowered the cost of energy production, but those savings have not shown up on customers’ energy bills.

The group reported that wholesale costs amount to just one-third of the price of renewable energy generation. Transmission of the power and overhead costs account for the remaining two-thirds.

“But more important than that are the hidden costs of wind and solar being imposed on our grid. First is the cost of transmission and interconnections to bring their electricity to the market,” TPPF wrote in a statement. “Texans are paying twice as much in transmission fees as they were in 2011, about $2 billion annually, and almost all of that new money is being spent on new wind and solar development.”

According to TPPF, renewable energy transmission costs taxpayers $4-5 billion annually. Savings from renewable sources in the state are estimated to have reduced costs by $2 billion.

“Texas does not need more investment. It needs smarter investment,” TPPF wrote.

The report by RealClearEnergy indicates that some of the costs associated with clean energy could be cut down through the use of technology like small, modular nuclear facilities built at existing power generation centers that would not require new transmission investment. However, nuclear power generation facilities are being shuttered across the nation.

Only two nuclear generation plants have been opened since 2016, while 12 power plants were shut down between 2012 and 2021. A congressional research report says that another seven plants will be shuttered by 2025.

A research article in 2020 by Princeton University details the state-by-state requirements to meet net-zero goals by 2050 established by President Joe Biden through executive order. While the study claims the cost will be high, it also concluded that spending will not be more significant than other energy projects in the past.

“Most studies do not provide this high geographic resolution for every state in the country, making it hard to tangibly appreciate what it will take to get to net zero. Our research helps make a net-zero future vivid and real for people,” said Eric Larson, lead study researcher and senior research engineer at the Andlinger Center for Energy and the Environment. “Unless we roll up our sleeves and really understand what we have to do by when we won’t be able to meet our goals.”

The researchers crafted five plans that would see the United States hit net-zero goals by 2050, which include such items as 100% electrification of vehicles, converting agricultural regions to biomass production facilities, and total elimination of fossil fuels.

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