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Mass. study: Fuel, conservation, anti-pollution rules add up  

Credit:  By Jay Fitzgerald, Boston Herald, www.bostonherald.com 26 October 2010 ~~

Massachusetts utility ratepayers will end up paying $9.8 billion more, over the next decade, for new green-energy mandates, or about $1,580 per household – and even more for businesses that use a lot of electricity, according to a new study.

Suffolk University’s Beacon Hill Institute examined 11 mandates to increase use of renewable fuels and promote energy efficiency – and the institute says ratepayers will bear the financial burden.

“There’s a huge cost and it’s going to accelerate over the next decade,” said Paul Bachman, a director at the conservative Beacon Hill Institute.

The study said its $9.8 billion price tag is actually a lowball estimate, because some of the state’s energy mandates, such as green tax credits, are hard to calculate.

The institute looked at the cost of a number of clean-energy programs, including the state’s requirement for increased use of renewable fuels in future years; fees to pay for energy conservation programs; and the Regional Greenhouse Gas Initiative to limit burning of carbon-based fuels.

The biggest expense is the above-market prices electric customers would pay for power generated from wind, solar and other renewable sources, the report said. Requirements to increase use of renewable fuels alone will cost ratepayers about $4 billion.

“All these costs on top of the regular prices for electricity are unsustainable for consumers,” Bachman said. “If we want businesses to stay in Massachusetts, policymakers must provide relief.”

But Ian Bowles, Gov. Deval Patrick’s energy and environmental czar, blasted the report as being inaccurate and failing to add up all the benefits of green energy.

“It’s ideology, not analysis,” Bowles said, adding that the report didn’t include what he said is $15 billion in savings that energy-efficiency programs could produce over the next 10 years.

While saying there will be benefits, such as cleaner air and less dependence on foreign fuels, Bachman said, green energy is simply very expensive.

Above-market prices for renewable fuels will escalate each year due to state mandates that require increased use of green energy as the decade goes on, he said.

Source:  By Jay Fitzgerald, Boston Herald, www.bostonherald.com 26 October 2010

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