We are pleased to join with dozens of our fellow think tank partners in support of keeping automobile prices low. California adopted statewide motor vehicle greenhouse gas emission rules in September 2004 to impose very strict limits on the emissions. We are calling on the EPA to revoke their special privileges.

Center Co-Signs National Coalition Letter to the EPA to Revoke the “California Waiver”

The Rhode Island Center for Freedom & Prosperity is pleased to join with dozens of our fellow think tank partners in support of keeping automobile prices low. California adopted statewide motor vehicle greenhouse gas (GHG) emission rules in September 2004 to impose very strict limits on the emission of CO2 from automobile tailpipes.  While the federal Clean Air Act (CAA) generally preempts states from adopting their own motor vehicle emission regulations, CAA Section 209(b) allows the state to petition for a California waiver from that prohibition.  If EPA grants such a waiver to California, other states may then adopt (without amendment, by legislation or executive order) the California regulatory regime.

In December 2005, California requested that EPA grant a waiver of preemption for its GHG regulations for automobiles.  In April, 2007, the United States Supreme Court, in Massachusetts vs. EPA, empowered EPA to regulate CO2 under the Clean Air Act.  As a result, the California waiver request came under active consideration at EPA.  The request was denied in 2008 by the George W. Bush administration.  However, in January 2009, the California Air Resources Board requested that EPA reconsider its denial.  In July 2009, the Obama administration granted California’s waiver request, clearing the way for California to implement its motor vehicle GHG regulations – and for other states to follow suit.

Currently, 13 States – Connecticut, Delaware, Maine, Maryland, Massachusetts, New Jersey, New Mexico, New York, Oregon, Pennsylvania, Rhode Island, Vermont, and Washington – and the District of Columbia have adopted California’s stricter automobile emissions standards.  In addition, nine – CT, ME, MD, MA, NJ, NY, OR, RI, and VT – have adopted California’s “zero emission vehicle” (ZEV) mandate.

Increased natural gas pipeline Capacity would bring rates down for Rhode Island families after recent electricity rate hikes.

Center: Progressive Policies Root Cause of Electricity Rate Hikes on RI Families

STATEMENT – FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE: August 7, 2017

As forewarned, Progressive Energy Agenda Hurting RI Families in their Pocketbooks

Increased Natural Gas Pipeline Capacity Would Bring Rates Down

Providence, RI – Already ranking a dismal 45th in overall family prosperity, Rhode Islanders will soon suffer from a 16-21% increase on their electricity bills, making matters even worse. The nonpartisan RI Center for Freedom & Prosperity attributes these artificially high rates to state energy policies that serve to limit the supply of low-cost natural gas in the region and that mandate National Grid to purchase high-cost electricity from unreliable renewable energy producers.

In 2016, the Center forewarned of almost this exact level price increase (13-18%) in its report on the cost of renewable energy mandates.

This price increase is largely due to basic supply and demand forces. The supply of natural gas, which is used to produce low-cost and low-emission electricity, is severely limited due to inadequate natural-gas pipeline capacity into our ISO New England region. Renewable energy mandates and increased fees due to Rhode Island’s membership in the Regional Greenhouse Gas Initiative (RGGI) exacerbate the problem.

“Today, every Rhode Island family and business more clearly understands the real cost of electing progressive Democrats into the General Assembly and of mainstream Democrats capitulating to their agenda,” commented Mike Stenhouse, CEO for the Center. “The way to spur private sector investment in expanded pipeline capacity is to provide market certainty by eliminating disincentives to produce and sell natural gas electricity.”

The Center laments that while much of the country is enjoying the benefits of abundant low-cost, low-emission natural gas electricity, Rhode Islanders, conversely, are suffering from policies that lead to lower available supplies of natural gas.


Rhode Islanders need a credible alternative to the status quo and its destructive progressive ideas. You can help.

Click here to find out more >>>

The RI Center for Freedom & Prosperity is the Ocean State’s leading voice against the wreckage caused by our state’s progressive agenda.

As the state’s leading research organization, advancing family and business friendly values… the mission of our Center is to make Rhode Island a better place to call home – to raise a family and to build a career.

While progressives value government-centric, taxpayer-funded dependency… our Center believes in the value of hard work and the free-enterprise system.

We understand that in order for more Rhode Island families to have a better quality of life, that more and better businesses are needed to create more and better jobs.

Your donation will help us fight the union-progressive movement and, instead, advocate for pro-family, pro-business policies and values.

Please make a generous, tax-deductible gift to support our Center today!

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The price increases are not attributable to profit motives by National Grid. Rather, as advocated by progressives such as US Senator Sheldon Whitehouse and State Representative Aaron Regunberg, the federal and state assault on low-cost fossil fuel energy, combined with mandates to sell high-cost green energy, have artificially distorted the free-market, leading to dramatic price increases … with no discernible and offsetting environmental benefit.

Increased production of low-cost and low-emission energy derived from natural gas offers consumers and politicians an acceptable compromise solution. However, without increased pipeline capacity, such increased production is not possible, even if the proposed Burrillville natural gas energy plant were to come online.

The Center suggests that the path to lower electric prices is clear. First, repeal the mandates and subsidies for high-cost renewable energy. Second, clear away the regulations that create market uncertainty, creating a renewed incentive for the private sector to invest in increased natural gas pipeline capacity.

Just last week, the Center also issued a report on progressive bills, two of which would heap an additional $48 million annual burden on Ocean State ratepayers.


The RI Center for Freedom & Prosperity is the Ocean State’s leading voice against the wreckage caused by our state’s progressive agenda.

As the state’s leading research organization, advancing family and business friendly values… the mission of our Center is to make Rhode Island a better place to call home – to raise a family and to build a career.

While progressives value government-centric, taxpayer-funded dependency… our Center believes in the value of hard work and the free-enterprise system.

We understand that in order for more Rhode Island families to have a better quality of life, that more and better businesses are needed to create more and better jobs.

Your donation will help us fight the union-progressive movement and, instead, advocate for pro-family, pro-business policies and values.

Please make a generous, tax-deductible gift to support our Center today!

STATEMENT: Center Joins National Taxpayer Group to Oppose Carbon Tax Scheme

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE: March 1, 2017

15 Cents per Gallon & other Increased Energy Rates Will Further Harm RI Families, Businesses, and State’s Overall Competitiveness

Providence, RI — The Rhode Island Center for Freedom & Prosperity supports a letter to Ocean State lawmakers issued today by Americans for Tax Reform (ATR), the national pro-taxpayer group headed by Grover Norquist, in opposition to the concept of a new state carbon tax on energy; a tax that will kill jobs in Rhode Island.

Legislation sponsored by Senators Jeanine Calkin, Ana Quezada, James Seveney, Harold Metts, and Frank Lombardo (S0365) would place a new tax of $15 per ton of emissions; a tax that will then increase by an additional $5 per year. The bill will be heard today by the Senate Committee on the Environment and Agriculture. The House version of the bill (H5369) sponsored by Representatives Regunberg, Carson, Handy, Keable, and Donovan has not yet been scheduled for a hearing in the House Finance Committee.


Rhode Islanders need a credible alternative to the status quo and its destructive progressive ideas. You can help.

Click here to find out more >>>

The RI Center for Freedom & Prosperity is the Ocean State’s leading voice against the wreckage caused by our state’s progressive agenda.

As the state’s leading research organization, advancing family and business friendly values… the mission of our Center is to make Rhode Island a better place to call home – to raise a family and to build a career.

While progressives value government-centric, taxpayer-funded dependency… our Center believes in the value of hard work and the free-enterprise system.

We understand that in order for more Rhode Island families to have a better quality of life, that more and better businesses are needed to create more and better jobs.

Your donation will help us fight the union-progressive movement and, instead, advocate for pro-family, pro-business policies and values.

Please make a generous, tax-deductible gift to support our Center today!

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“This progressive-government kind of interference in the market, which will drive up energy rates for every Rhode Island family and business, is one of the major reason’s why Ocean Staters suffer from the 50th ranked business climate and the 48th rank in family prosperity,” commented Mike Stenhouse, CEO for the Center. “Once again, some lawmakers are placing the advancement of a radical green agenda, ahead of the interests of the people of our state – the forgotten families.”

Already paying some of the highest energy and gasoline rates in the country, Rhode Island families and business could see an increase of up to 15 cents per gallon if this bill were to become law, according to ATR.

Job-Killing, Economy-Busting Proposal? Whether via carbon taxes, green energy mandates, or restrictions on cheaper fossil-fuel based energy production, higher energy costs are a major drag on economic growth. According to a 2016 report by the Center, an extreme green energy agenda, which this bill would advance, could result in dire economic consequences;

  • 4,000 – 6,000 fewer jobs
  • $141-$190 million in total costs
  • a 49-73% increase in the base cost of electricity, leading to
  • a 13-18% increase in electricity rates
  • $670-$893 million extracted from the economy

“Our state economy is simply too fragile to be able to handle this kind of negative hit,” concluded Stenhouse. “And at what offsetting gain?”


The RI Center for Freedom & Prosperity is the Ocean State’s leading voice against the wreckage caused by our state’s progressive agenda.

As the state’s leading research organization, advancing family and business friendly values… the mission of our Center is to make Rhode Island a better place to call home – to raise a family and to build a career.

While progressives value government-centric, taxpayer-funded dependency… our Center believes in the value of hard work and the free-enterprise system.

We understand that in order for more Rhode Island families to have a better quality of life, that more and better businesses are needed to create more and better jobs.

Your donation will help us fight the union-progressive movement and, instead, advocate for pro-family, pro-business policies and values.

Please make a generous, tax-deductible gift to support our Center today!

RI Energy Mandates Will Continue to Harm State Economy, Perpetuates Cronyism

MEDIA RELEASE

June 13, 2016

RI Families Once Again Left Out of State Budget

RI Renewable Energy Mandates Create Poor Cost-Benefit Value. Families and businesses to lose again.
Local Wind Developer to Receive Unprecedented Crony Hand-out off Backs of Average Rhode Islander? 

Providence, RI — Investing in state mandates for renewable energy, currently and potentially on the books in Rhode Island, will provide an extremely poor return for Ocean State taxpayers and ratepayers, and may only serve to perpetuate a culture of crony corporatism. This according to the RI Center for Freedom & Prosperity, which today released a comprehensive report analyzing the cost-benefit of meeting such mandates in future years.

The report, Renewable Energy in Rhode Island, is based on detailed research by a national energy expert, Dr. Timothy J. Considine. Subtitled Big Cost, Little Difference, the report’s major findings, if Rhode Island were to ramp up its renewable energy production to meet existing mandates, include:

  • Rhode Island has a relatively low carbon footprint, as 98% of its energy generation is based on natural gas production
  • Major investment will be required to achieve a minor abatement in that carbon footprint, if the state is to meet its existing (and potentially increased) renewable energy mandates. This poor cost-benefit ratio is well below EPA recommended standards
  •  An artificial rise of 13-18% in electricity rates, leading six to eight hundred million dollars extracted from the private sector because of government mandated higher energy costs, are some the anticipated consequences of maintaining the state’s dubious energy policies
  • Four to six thousand jobs could be lost overall as a result of these consequences, despite the few hundred ‘green’ jobs created, which will place further downward pressure on the state’s already dismal 48th ranking on the national Jobs and Opportunity Index

The report also details a number of bills, whose fate is yet to be decided in this legislative session, that would advance or extend renewable energy mandates, potentially exacerbating the negative economic impacts cited in the report.

Additionally, of relevant concern to the ongoing controversy of legislative grants and cronyism in the state, is an Article 18 provision in the proposed 2017 budget, that would give millions of dollars in subsidies to an insider wind energy developer who has made significant campaign donations to state political leaders. The Providence Journal today published an article on this potential ‘pay-to-play’ scandal, which National Grid claims would make Rhode Island the only state in the nation to hand-out subsidies of this nature

“Our state’s self-destructive energy policies represent an extraordinarily poor value for ratepayers, taxpayers and for our state’s economy,” commented Mike Stenhouse, CEO for the Center. “To make matters worse, like so many other big-government programs, insider developers are poised to profit off the backs of the average family and small business owner.”

Center Plays Role in Lawsuit Against RI Attorney General for Climate Change Conspiracy Documents

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE: July 27, 2016

Center Assists National Group in Climate Change ‘Secrecy Pact’ Document Suit Against Rhode Island Attorney General
AG’s Denial of Open Records Request – part of collusion to shut-down political dissent – Legally Challenged

Senator Whitehouse-Led Enemies-of-Free-Speech Conspiracy Cited as Reprehensible

Providence, RI — The RI Center for Freedom & Prosperity (Center) announced that it assisted a national nonprofit organization in a lawsuit, filed today, demanding that the Rhode Island Office of the Attorney General (OAG) release documents they have refused to make public. The legal complaint calls for the release of documents related to AG’s United for Clean Power, a group comprised of politically-motivated AGs from about a dozen states, including Rhode Island, who have secretly teamed up with anti-fossil fuel activists to investigate dozens of organizations that have exercised their free speech by challenging the global warming policy agenda.

The lawsuit was filed in Providence Superior Court by the Free Market Environmental Law Clinic and the Energy & Environmental Legal Institute (E & E Legal). Representing these organization are Virginia attorney Chaim Mandelbaum and Rhode Island attorney Will Wray, an adjunct legal scholar to the Center, who recently won a landmark pension reform case on behalf of the city of Cranston.

The lawsuit calls on the Attorney General’s office to release documents it refused to disclose following a standard access to records request by E & E Legal. Today E & E Legal also issued its own media release on the lawsuit that called the OAG’s claimed exemptions “absurd.”

“In America, we must all remain free to voice our opinions without fear of state-sponsored persecution,” commented Mike Stenhouse, CEO for the Center, which is not itself a plaintiff and otherwise was not associated with the legal strategy. “And whether there is government overreach or not, public officials must not prevent the citizenry of learning of any agreement it may have entered into.”

In a series of April emails obtained by E & E Legal, the RI OAG consented to sign-on to an “agreement” among the larger AG cabal that is colluding to investigate if RICO statutes may have been violated. However, the Rhode Island AG now refuses to make public the group’s ‘Secrecy Pact’ documents related to that taxpayer funded activity.

Recently, under pressure from pro free-speech advocates, several other original AG members have wavered in their support of the group’s heavy-handed tactics, one even withdrawing his subpoena issued to ExxonMobil, which many legal observers saw as an unconstitutional act.

“We believe that General Kilmartin and his fellow enemies of debate are seeking to maintain a cloak of invisibility over the national AG group’s attempt to crush dissent by those who disagree with their radical climate change agenda,” continued Stenhouse, who believes that every American has the right to disagree with their government and to support causes they believe in. “With our state’s own Senator Sheldon Whitehouse among the commandants of this national conspiracy, it is reprehensible that political elitists are colluding to prosecute those who disagree with them on policy.” Whitehouse is among 19 U.S. Senators who have also banded together to attack opponents of climate policies that are harmful to economic growth.

In June, the Center published an energy report that demonstrated how oppressive state renewable energy mandates, as part of the national climate change agenda, will cost taxpayers and ratepayers hundreds of millions of dollars, cause job losses in the thousands, and artificially raise local electricity rates. It is research and advocacy such as this that Kilmartin and his AG group are seeking to muzzle and potentially prosecute as criminal.

Even as Rhode Island Governor Gina Raimondo has similarly signed on with a group of 17 Democrat governors to a separate Governor’s Accord for a New Energy Future, the Center questions whether or not the governor approved Rhode Island’s membership into the activist AG group and its anti-free-speech mission, and whether or not her office authorized the refusal to comply with the records request.

The complaint filed today claims that the OAG violated the Access to Public Records Act, Chapter 38-2 of the Rhode Island General Laws. The lawsuit seeks to vindicate the public’s right to a transparent and open government. The Free Market Environmental Law Clinic and E & E Legal ask the Court to require Attorney General Peter Kilmartin to produce the documents he has attempted to withhold.

When contacted by E & E Legal earlier this month seeking a referral for local counsel to file the lawsuit, the Center directed them to a member of its own organization, attorney Will Wray.

Interested Ocean Staters can follow the lawsuit on Twitter at #ReleaseAGdocs.

About the Center

The nonpartisan RI Center for Freedom & Prosperity is Rhode Island’s premiere free-enterprise research and advocacy organization. The nonprofit Center is funded entirely by private tax-deductible donations and never accepts public funding. The mission of the 501-C-3 organization is to return government to the people by opposing special-interest politics and advancing proven free-market solutions that can transform lives by restoring economic competitiveness, increasing educational opportunities, and protecting individual freedoms.

REPORT: Renewable Energy Mandates – a Poor Investment for RI

Major taxpayer and ratepayer subsidies will lead to significantly increased electricity rates – all for little abatement of RI’s carbon footprint – and a further hampering of the state’s struggling economy.

Read the Energy Report here

NEW: Failing RI Report Card Grades Not Advancing Social Justice

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
November 17, 2015

Non-Competitive Grades Harming Work, Mobility, and Opportunity for Rhode Islanders
Preponderance of Fs and Ds Should Signal Need for Change in Policy Culture

Providence, RI — The opportunity for upward mobility for many Ocean Staters continues to be hampered by a non-competitive business climate and onerous family tax burdens, as evidenced by the poor grades the State of Rhode Island received on the 2015 Report Card on Rhode Island Competitiveness, the fourth annual such report, released today by the Rhode Island Center for Freedom & Prosperity.

Burdened with public policies that discourage work and a productive lifestyle, the state’s poor grades in 10 major categories (two F’s, seven D’s, and one C) reflect a government culture geared to benefit special interest insiders, while at the same time promoting job-crushing and soul-crushing dependency among the general populace.

Raising even further alarm, Rhode Island ranked dead-last, overall, when compared with report cards from other New England states.

“This report card clearly demonstrates the wreckage that decades of liberal policies have wrought upon our state. These unacceptable grades should be a wake-up call to lawmakers that a government-centric approach is not producing the social justice and self-sufficiency that Rhode Islanders crave,” suggested Mike Stenhouse, CEO for the Center. “If we want to provide more mobility and opportunity for our neighbors and entrepreneurs, we must completely reform our public policy approach. We must learn to trust in our people and remove the tax and regulatory boot of government off of their backs by advancing policies that empower the average family with choices, that reward work, and that grow the economy.”

The two categories with F grades are Infrastructure and Health Care; the seven D’s are Business Climate, Tax Burden, Spending & Debt, Employment & Income, Energy, Public Sector labor, and Living & Retirement in Rhode Island; while Education received a C-. Among the 52 sub-categories evaluated, Rhode Island received 19 F’s, 24 D’s, 5 Cs, 3 Bs, and just one lone A.

In a related 1-page brief, the Center also analyzes report card trends over recent years as well as comparisons to grades for other New England states.

The RI Report Card, originally developed for the Center by a national economist, compiles into a single document the state rankings among key economic and social indexes, as published by dozens of credible 3rd party national organizations.

The 2015 report card, with citations, as well as reports from prior years can be downloaded at RIFreedom.org/RIReportCard.

Media Contact:
Mike Stenhouse, CEO
401.429.6115 | info@rifreedom.org

About the Center
The nonpartisan RI Center for Freedom & Prosperity is Rhode Island’s premiere free-enterprise research and advocacy organization. The mission of the 501-C-3 nonprofit organization is to return government to the people by opposing special-interest politics and advancing proven free-market solutions that can transform lives by restoring economic competitiveness, increasing educational opportunities, and protecting individual freedoms.

The Economic Impact of the Above-Market Deepwater Contract

Download report (PDF)

Published in Cooperation with the Beacon Hill Institute

Deepwater Impact

On December 13th, National Grid supplied new details about its contract with Deepwater Wind to purchase power produced by its proposed offshore wind farm. The contract calls for above-market rates, with the total cost estimated in the response along with other details.[1] Based on the underlying assumptions that the project will produce 125,000 MWh of electricity, requiring an annual capacity of 47.8%, the paper predicts a total of $474.3 million above market costs over the expected 20-year lifetime of the project.

We simulated the annual “Above Market Cost” predicted by National Grid in the Rhode Island STAMP® model as a percentage price increase on electricity to measure the dynamic effects on the state economy. The model provided estimates of the project’s impact on employment, wages, and income. Each estimate represents the change that would take place in the indicated variable against a “baseline” assumption of what it would have been in the absence of the Deepwater contract.

The agreement to pay above-market prices for the power produced by Deepwater will have negative economic effects on the state of Rhode Island. The touted job effect of a wind farm is true to a degree; some jobs will be created, such as those that maintain the turbines. But the model shows that the net effect is negative. Individuals and companies forced to pay more for electricity will consume less in other areas, leading to job losses across all sectors. There will be a net job loss of 75 jobs in 2020. Job losses and price increases, due to higher costs for commercial and industrial electricity consumers, will reduce real incomes as firms, households, and governments spend more of their budgets on electricity and less on other items.

deepwater-table1

In 2020, real disposable income will fall by an expected $23.4 million. Net investment will fall by $2.3 million, compared to a baseline of no Deepwater contract. In 2020, the “higher than market” electricity contract is expected to cost families $10 per year; commercial businesses $125 per year; and industrial businesses $1,050 per year.

Renewable Energy Standard Impact

Last month, Beacon Hill and the RI Center for Freedom & Prosperity released a similar analysis of Rhode Island’s Clean Energy Act Renewable Energy Standards (RES).2 These effects would be in addition to the Deepwater contract.

deepwater-table2

Rhode Island’s renewable energy standard mandate and Deepwater Wind cost $36.4 million annually by 2020.

 


[1] Docket 4371: National Grid’s Responses the Division’s Second Set of Post Hearing Data Requests. Rhode Island Public Utilities Commission. Available at: www.ripuc.org/eventsactions/docket/4371-NGrid-PHDR-DPU2_12-13-13.pdf (Accessed March 26, 2014.)

Economic Impact of Rhode Island’s Renewable Energy Standard

Download report (PDF)

Executive Summary

In 2004, the State of Rhode Island enacted Renewable Energy Standards (RES) through legislation known as the Clean Energy Act. Many of the assumptions used to justify the Act turned out to be largely inaccurate, and implementation of its mandates will exact more costs to the Rhode Island economy, with only limited benefits, if any.

This study estimates the economic impact of maintaining RES mandates over the next six years in the Ocean State. Rhode Island’s energy prices are already among the highest in the nation, and the state’s poorly rated business climate hardly needs another factor to exacerbate it.[i]

The major findings of this study show:

  • The current energy mandates will raise the cost of electricity by almost $150 million for the state’s consumers through 2020.
  • RI’s electricity prices will unnecessarily rise by an additional 1.85% by 2020.

These increased energy prices will hurt Rhode Island’s residents and businesses and, consequently, inflict harm on the state’s economy. In 2020, the RES is expected to:

  • Increase unemployment in an already-weak
    jobs market.
  • Reduce real disposable income for families.
  • Decrease private investment in the state.
  • Increase the overall energy costs of households, businesses, and industries.

Rhode Island is not alone. Nationally, government mandates that require electric utilities companies to use wind and solar power instead of more-affordable hydrocarbons have left ratepayers with sticker shock in state after state, according to a recent Centennial Institute study.[ii] Average electric rates are 21% higher in the 30 states with mandates than in the 20 states without them, according to expert Kelly Sloan.

Faulty Assumptions

In 2004, at the height of the manmade global warming campaign, a number of assumptions were broadly promoted as reasons for states, our nation, and other countries to enact and implement strict energy guidelines that would limit carbon dioxide emissions into the atmosphere. Nine years later, there are strong arguments to suggest that most of the assumptions that were used as a basis for the energy mandates imposed in Rhode Island were off the mark. The following are among the assumptions that are now openly in dispute:

  • Renewable energy would be more cost-efficient. Renewable energy costs remain significantly higher than conventional sources, with few near-term expectations for change.[iii]
  • Renewable energy would be abundantly plentiful. The inconsistency of wind and solar sources creates significant periods of non-production, often requiring additional fossil-fuel plants to be built as “backup” systems.[iv]
  • Fossil fuel sources would become scarce in the near future. Technological advances, in procurement, transportation, and consumption, continue to expand available energy sources, especially for the United States, which is projected to enjoy an extended, energy-self-sufficient period as the lead producer of oil.[v]
  • Fossil fuels would become increasingly expensive. Coal and natural gas continue to be the least expensive sources of electricity and will continue to be the most cost-efficient sources in the coming decades. As America extracts and refines more and more of its vast reserves, oil prices could also see a significant decline.[vi]
  • Renewable energy would spur a boom in green jobs. There has been no such boom; many once-promising green companies have gone out of business because of low demand for high-priced energy sources. Some European countries that invested heavily in the “green revolution” suffered more job losses than gains.[vii]
  • Renewable energy is better for the environment. This may not be true in the near term. The need for backup power plants decreases environmental efficiency. Better air quality can be achieved via natural gas, which is significantly cleaner than coal.[viii]By contrast, “energy sprawl” has become a popular term among environmentalists to describe the massive amount of land or sea area required for wind or solar farms, which many consider eye pollution.[ix]Furthermore, the miles of transmission lines required for such technology often cut through pristine landscapes,[x]and windmills are a danger to birds and bats.[xi]
  • Global warming is an immediate danger to our Earth. With recent reports that global temperatures have flattened over the past 17 years, despite increasing overall carbon emissions, it is now much more of an open question as to whether or not restrictive and punitive energy mandates will actually make a decisive difference in global temperatures.[xii]

Specific Findings

  • Compliance costs for RI’s RES requirements is already millions of dollars per year and expected to continue climbing, with much of the burden passed on to energy consumers.
  • The intermittent nature of common renewable energy sources means that the standards may not even succeed in their intended purpose of reducing greenhouse gas and other emissions.
  • Rhode Island’s RES mandate will cost Rhode Island $21.4 million per year by 2020.
  • At the end of this decade, electricity prices will be 0.24 cents per kilowatt-hour (kWh) higher because of the RES.
  • These increases will cost the state 105 jobs and $4.6 million in investment dollars and lower the real disposable income by $33.0 million.

Deepwater Wind

The additional negative economic projections related to the implementation of the Deepwater Wind project are not included in these findings. The purpose of this report is to project the general adverse effects of continuing with existing RES mandates; the Deepwater project represents a specific choice to implement one or more of those mandates.

The RI Center for Freedom & Prosperity plans to run the estimated $350–500 million in additional costs to ratepayers through its RI-STAMP modeling tool and release those projections in the coming weeks. It is reasonable to expect the negative effect of this single, specific project to be significantly larger than the general effect of existing RES policies.

Policy Recommendations

Given the shifting landscape of the climate change debate and unchanging condition of Rhode Island’s economy, the question for Rhode Islanders is whether or not the state should loosen its energy mandate policies. This study shows that, if left unchanged, current policies will indeed cause further harm to our state’s already struggling economy.

Even if recent questions about the true global climate effect of carbon emissions prove unfounded, is it realistic to think that restrictive energy policies in the Ocean State will have any impact at all on the global climate, considering its small geographic and industrial footprint? Or should the state seek to roll back some of the burdens these mandates are projected to impose on families and businesses?

If the General Assembly is willing to consider reform of existing RES laws, our Center recommends:

  • Enact the Electricity Freedom Act, repealing the state’s renewable energy standards (see Appendix B for model legislation).

Require that the state investigate and utilize methods of predicting and tracing the economic effects of renewable energy standards on Rhode Island, prior to renewed implementation.

 


[i] RI Center for Freedom & Prosperity, “Report Card on Rhode Island Competitiveness,” on which Rhode Island receives a D+ for energy issues overall. <www.rifreedom.org/2013/03/second-year-report-card-lack-of-bold-action-lack-of-improvement/>

[ii] Sloan, Kelly. “Bad Bargain: How Renewable Energy Mandates Pick Your Pocket.” Centennial Institute. 2013. <www.ccu.edu/uploadedFiles/Pages/Centennial_Institute/Policy%20Brief%20No.%202013-3.pdf>

[iii] “Levelized Cost of New Generation Resources in the Annual Energy Outlook 2013.” U.S. Energy Information Administration.  January 2013.  <www.eia.gov/forecasts/aeo/electricity_generation.cfm >

[iv] Vartabedian, Ralph. “Rise in renewable energy will require more use of fossil fuels.” Los Angeles Times. December 9, 2012. < articles.latimes.com/2012/dec/09/local/la-me-unreliable-power-20121210>

[v] Smith, Grant. “U.S. to Be Top Oil Producer by 2015 on Shale, IEA Says.” Bloomberg. November 12, 2013. http://www.bloomberg.com/news/2013-11-12/u-s-nears-energy-independence-by-2035-on-shale-boom-iea-says.html

[vi] Ibid at note 3.

[vii] Green, Kenneth P. “The Myth of Green Energy Jobs: The European Experience.” American Enterprise Institute Energy and Environment Outlook. February 2011. < www.aei.org/article/energy-and-the-environment/the-myth-of-green-energy-jobs-the-european-experience>

[viii] De Gouw, J.A., D. D. Parrish, G.J.Frost, and M. Trainer. “Reduced Emissions of CO2, NOx and SO2 from U.S. Power Plants Due to the Switch from Coal to Natural Gas with Combined Cycle Technology.” Earth’s Future. < onlinelibrary.wiley.com/doi/10.1002/2014EF000196/abstract>

[ix] Galbraith, Kate. “Study Warns of ‘Energy Sprawl’.” The New York Times. August 26, 2009. <green.blogs.nytimes.com/2009/08/26/study-warns-of-energy-sprawl/?_r=0>

[x] Wood, Daniel B. “Green power may ruin pristine land in California.” The Christian Science Monitor. April 24, 2007. <www.csmonitor.com/2007/0424/p02s01-wogi.html>

[xi] Irfan, Umair. “Bats and Birds Face Serious Threats From Growth of Wind Energy.” The New York Times. August 8, 2011. < www.nytimes.com/cwire/2011/08/08/08climatewire-bats-and-birds-face-serious-threats-from-gro-10511.html?pagewanted=all>

[xii] Hollingsworth, Barbara. “Climate Scientist: 73 UN Climate Models Wrong, No Global Warming in 17 Years.” CNS News. September 30, 2013. < www.cnsnews.com/news/article/barbara-hollingsworth/climate-scientist-73-un-climate-models-wrong-no-global-warming-17>

Download report (PDF)

Second-Year Report Card: Lack of Bold Action = Lack of Improvement

Related Links: 2012 Report Card

It isn’t surprising that a year of no bold legislative or executive action to free the Rhode Island economy or education system from its shackles, or to lighten the heavy hand of government, was a year of no significant improvement in the RI Center for Freedom & Prosperity’s annual Report Card on RI Competitiveness.

What changes the Ocean State saw in the report card’s ten major categories came in large part due to changes of the subcategories, a technical change in the Center’s methodology, and tiny shifts that were able to cross a line into a new letter grade.  In 2012, Rhode Island had five grades of F, two of D-, two of D, and one of D+. In 2013, the tally is three of F, four of D-, one of D, and two of D+. (One of the lost Fs was purely a change in the method of ranking states.)

The sheer number of below-average grades does much to explain Rhode Island’s continuing economic decline and population exodus.

“For all the talk last year about the positive legislative steps we supposedly took, the state’s dismal grade point average has barely moved”, said the Center’s CEO, Mike Stenhouse. “We’ve all seen the depressing headlines, but when compiled into a single report, the report card shows how poor public policy is strangling economic opportunities for families in our state.”

The report card organizes 53 national rankings into the following major categories:

  • Tax Burden (D-)
  • Business Climate (F)
  • Spending & Debt (D-)
  • Employment & Income (D-)
  • K-12 Education (D+)
  • Energy (D+)
  • Infrastructure (F)
  • Public Sector (D)
  • Health Care (D-)
  • Living & Retiring in RI (F)

Whether the decision is thoroughly researched or simply based on impressions, these are the categories on which the Ocean State is judged when businesses and individuals make important decisions about their lives and their economic well-being. Having the information all in one place may be discouraging, but it gives those with a vested interest in the health of the State of Rhode Island clear guidelines for what problems must be addressed.