FILE - Renewable energy

Six of the top 10 cities promoting an environmentally friendly lifestyle are in California, according to a WalletHub analysis of America’s 100 greenest cities.

Berkeley, not in the top 10, became the first city in the U.S. to ban the installation of natural gas lines in new homes,” the San Francisco Gate reports.

“Forcing people to purchase electric stoves instead of gas stoves is pointless,” Jason Isaac with the Texas Public Policy Foundation says. “California still gets 41 percent of its electricity from natural gas, so you’re cooking with gas anyway. And this green push will result in higher costs and less reliability for everyone.”

A recent report by the TPPF found that a similar trend of pushing renewable energy initiatives in Texas is costing taxpayers more than the energy is worth.

The foundation estimates that the total cost to taxpayers and consumers of subsidies going to renewable energy operators in Texas from 2006 to 2029 will be $36 billion.

By 2029, Texas state and local subsidies expected to be paid to renewable energy companies will reach nearly $18 billion, the TPPF projects. This includes $14 billion in taxpayer money paid to CREZ transmission lines, $2.5 billion in 313 property tax abatements, $1 billion for grid interconnection costs, and $570 million for the Renewable Energy Credit program.

In 2008, the PUCT projected $4.93 billion in costs to consumers and taxpayers.

However, by 2015, based on calculations of peak costs and federal subsidies, wind-energy subsidies actually exceeded the wholesale price of electricity in the Texas market, Robert Bryce, a senior fellow at the Manhattan Institute, said. In some years, the subsidy was nearly three times the then-current market price of natural gas.

The cities of Austin, Georgetown and San Antonio maintain a municipally owned electricity provider from which they require their residents to purchase electricity at higher costs, TPPF argues. In Georgetown, an extra $32.7 million over budget of taxpayer money from 71,000 residents was spent on renewable energy production from 2016 to 2018.

Austin residents paid $838 million for a failed biomass production plant that provided renewable energy to the city for two months. Cost to taxpayers included a $460 million buyout of the 20-year contract originally worth $2.3 billion, according to WindAction.org.

Studies show that coal and natural gas are more efficient and reliable compared to wind and solar generation, which are inherently intermittent, according to TPFF. 

The Legislature can mitigate the problem by eliminating the preferential treatment Texas currently affords to renewable energy companies, TPFF argues.

TPPF highlights the biggest recipients of one of them, the federal Production Tax Credit (PTC): NextEra Energy ($5.7 billion in tax credits nationwide since 2008), EDP Renewables ($1.6 billion), Invenergy ($1.3 billion), NRG Energy ($1.1 billion), E.ON ($1.1 billion), Duke Energy ($938 million), BP ($913 million), EDF Renewables ($622 million), Exelon ($528 million), and Pattern ($500 million).

About $6.8 billion in federal subsidies, loans and loan guarantees were given to foreign corporations, including Iberdrola, Siemens, and E.On, Subsidy Tracker found.