Gouged by the Wind

Fenton Wind Farm near Chandler, Minnesota

Fenton Wind Farm near Chandler, Minnesota (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

It’s not every day that Minnesota makes the editorial page of the Wall Street Journal, but today is such a day.

The editorial questions the wisdom of Minnesota’s renewable energy mandate. The author notes (correctly) that the mandate increases the cost of electricity and that the burden of the cost increase falls mainly on the poor and middle class. They also claim that the environmental benefits are almost zero. Whatever the benefits, they certainly have direct costs to households.

The Journal fails to mention the indirect costs. The high cost of electricity in Minnesota makes it less appealing to businesses, especially those that are heavy users of electricity. This used to mean big manufacturing operations or aluminum smelters, but it increasingly includes outfits with big server farms such as Google, Microsoft, and Amazon. Discouraging both traditional and high tech industries from locating here seems like a dubious economic development strategy.

This strikes me as another attempt to make things better that actually make things worse.

You might think it would be a “no brainer” to reverse course, but I doubt it. There is such a thing as institutional inertia and every bad idea has a core of supporters. For some, environmental concerns trump everything else and they won’t retreat from victories, no matter how small the benefit or how great the cost.

Minnesotans will continue to be gouged by the wind.

Advertisements

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s

%d bloggers like this: