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.

“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?”

LAWSUIT: Center calls on RI Attorney General to release “secrecy pact” documents re. cabal’s climate change inquisition

Center Assists National Group in Climate Change ‘Secrecy Pact’ Document Suit Against Rhode Island Attorney General,  who’s denial of Open Records Request – part of collusion to shut-down political dissent – is Being Legally Challenged. Senator Whitehouse-Led Enemies-of-Free-Speech Conspiracy Cited as Reprehensible

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

Light bulb with realistic fluorescent filament - energy concept (Set)

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

Renewable Energy in Rhode Island: Big Cost, Little Difference

RI-CoastlineThe RI Center for Freedom & Prosperity has occasionally weighed in over the years on the energy and related regulatory issues facing Rhode Island, finding that “green” policies cost Rhode Islanders both their wealth and their jobs. Already suffering from one of the worst business climates and Jobs & Opportunity Index (JOI) ratings in the nation, Ocean State families and businesses cannot afford further increases in energy costs or losses in job opportunities.

Click here for the full RI report.

Yet, as the list of legislation at the end of this document shows, Rhode Island lawmakers are poised to make a deteriorated situation even worse.

Existing renewable portfolio energy standards (RPS), combined with an aggressive 2016 energy policy, will take even more taxpayer and ratepayer dollars out of the general economy in order to fund a special interest climate agenda and result in higher energy costs and a negative drag on the state’s economy. As this document shows, the harm done by these costs will all be in the name of a very low-impact, inefficient policy.

Based on this study’s findings, the Center strongly recommends that lawmakers reject all proposed new energy mandates in 2016 and, instead, repeal those that are currently written into law.

Findings

Because of its high dependence on electricity generation via natural gas production (98% of in-state generation), Rhode Island can boast a relatively low carbon footprint. However, to increase its renewable energy portfolio from its current level to its RPS-mandated target of 14.5% by 2019, for only a slight improvement, a massive influx of taxpayer and ratepayer dollars will be required, leading to higher electricity prices and a net loss of jobs.

Rhode Island, despite its ocean proximity, is rated as having a low capacity utilization factor for wind and solar. This means it could be very difficult — and costly — to reach its 14.5% target over the next three years.

Exacerbating this condition, “renewable” energy is considerably more expensive to produce than “fossil fuel” energy, meaning that an increase in the renewable portion of the state’s energy portfolio necessarily means an increase in electricity costs. Rhode Islanders are well aware of this phenomenon with the controversial Deepwater Wind project, which alone is expected to cost ratepayers upwards of $440 million dollars over its first 20 years.

Overall, the high cost of complying with existing state RPS mandates, combined with the low benefit of a minor reduction of our carbon footprint, should lead reasonable lawmakers to conclude that this so-called “investment” does not present a good value for Rhode Island.

Because of this poor cost-benefit “value proposition,” up to five times less than the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA)–suggested standard, Rhode Island should reconsider its existing energy policy approach. Given its highly unfavorable return on investment, the money targeted to meet its RPS goals could be better spent on sorely needed broad-based tax cuts that would benefit every Rhode Islander and actually spur economic growth.

By the numbers, national research by Dr. Timothy Considine comparing projects to a base case without energy mandates finds that if existing RPS capacity targets are to be met, Rhode Island will experience:

  • 4,401–6,068 lower employment levels, despite the few hundred energy jobs created
  • $141–190 million per year in total costs required to raise renewable production to targets through 2040
  • 49–73% as the range for the sustained increase in the cost of electricity from new solar and wind capacities
  • 13–18% as the sustained increase in actual electricity rates expected to be passed on
    to consumers
  • $670–893 million per year extracted from the economy in the form higher electricity rate payments by private sector businesses and families, with the “services” and “construction” industry sectors shouldering the largest burdens
  • $134–205 per ton as the projected cost of carbon dioxide emission reductions for Rhode Island, well beyond the $40–60 cost standard that the EPA itself recommends

The high costs of achieving small carbon dioxide emission reductions using RPS in Rhode Island prove that it is an inefficient means to address global climate change and represents a poor investment for state taxpayers and ratepayers. As in many other states, the costs of carbon reduction in the Ocean State are significantly higher than EPA standards, while the small stimulus from RPS investment is not large enough to offset the negative effects of higher electricity prices.

Click here for the full RI report.

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

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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

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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>

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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.