Costly mandates

Kansas wind farmA letter attacking the credibility of Kansas Policy Institute on renewable-energy mandates misstated the facts (“Support wind,” Oct. 18 Letters to the Editor). Our estimate of a $660 increase in electricity costs is comparing the year 2020 to 2012. The 1.7 percent increase the letter writer cited from Westar Energy is only what is happening right now and is actually a bit more than KPI’s model predicted. Utility companies are currently required to purchase 10 percent of their power from renewable-energy sources, but costs are expected to increase as the mandate rises to 20 percent by the year 2020.

The letter writer argues for continued government mandates and subsidies for his favored energy source — wind. He is implicitly asking taxpayers to pay higher energy bills and higher taxes to support something he likes, and claiming benefits for all. There may be disagreement over the amount by which prices will increase due to the government mandate, but there is no question that prices will be higher than if markets were allowed to freely function.

It boils down to this: If wind energy is cheaper, cleaner and better than coal and gas, then it does not need government mandates and subsidies to make it viable. Coal, oil and other forms of energy should not be receiving subsidies or mandates either. Kansans should be free to make energy decisions on their own without supporting cronyist schemes that benefit a select few at the expense of everyone else.

Vice president and policy director
Kansas Policy Institute