THIS STORY HAS BEEN FORMATTED FOR EASY PRINTING
THROW LIGHT ON ENERGY COSTS

Unclear on green power? How about price of fossil fuel?

August 9, 2010

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CONTRARY TO Bruce Mohl (“Green power costs shouldn’t be in the dark,’’ Op-ed, Aug.4), it is the costs of dirty power that are kept in the dark. Coal, oil, and natural gas power plants spew greenhouse gases that impose an incalculable price in climate change. Meanwhile, the federal government subsidizes fossil fuels to the tune of $10 billion a year through tax breaks and direct grants. None of these “extra’’ costs are itemized on our electric bills or our taxes.

In contrast, the cost — and benefits — of the biggest green power initiative taken by Governor Patrick and the Legislature is spelled out precisely. Our nation-leading three-year energy efficiency plan will save consumers and businesses $6 billion in reduced energy use from investments of $2 billion.

As for the “extra’’ costs of the Cape Wind and NStar wind contracts, all we really know is that fixed-price contracts for renewable energy will save money for consumers if fossil fuel prices go up — they tripled, after inflation, from 1998 to 2008 — and will cost a bit more if fossil fuel prices stay at today’s historically low levels. Had the Cape Wind contract been in place in 2008, it would have saved millions for consumers. And since these contracts account for only 3 percent of the electricity used in Massachusetts, the impact on bills will be small either way.

If the true costs of fossil fuels were as visible as those of renewable energy, we would be moving even faster toward Governor Patrick’s clean-energy future.

Robert Keough
Assistant secretary for
communications and public affairs
Executive Office of Energy and
Environmental Affairs
Boston

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