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This week’s winners of the “bad bill(s)  of the week” are Senate Bill 101 and it’s companion House Bill 121 – “An Act relating to a renewable portfolio standard; relating to electrical energy transmission; relating to distributed energy systems; relating to power cost equalization; relating to the Alaska Energy Authority; and providing for an effective date.”

Though the bills were both introduced in the last legislative session, recent activity requires that we highlight the top 5 reasons for AKHeadlamp’s  “bad bill of the week” designation.

Reason #5:  Supporting only renewable sources of energy fails to capture the overall environmental impact, reliability, and carbon emissions of a given energy mix. We like markets, not mandates – and effective environmental regulation.

Reason #4 :  The bills imply that renewable sources are “good” while non-renewable sources are “bad.”  This ignores the reality that the majority of renewable resources all involve the mining of non-renewable resources. Building over 1GW of new renewable energy is  a megaproject that will cost billions of dollars and take decades…and we’re excited to get started! But in Alaska’s regulatory environment, this simply won’t happen by 2040. Just ask our friends at Pebble, Donlin and Graphite One.

Reason #3:  The study by the National Renewable Energy Laboratory (NREL) casts a lot of doubt on the reliability of the 80% renewable energy mix.  In fact, every scenario contemplates keeping available at least 89% of the hydrocarbon generation capacity, to make up for intermittency.   That sure sounds cost effective, 

Reason #2:  Nuclear-generated electrical power is excluded. Any scientist or climate activist who is serious about energy expansion understands that there is no net-zero scenario without nuclear energy.

And the number one reason that SB 101 and HB 121 are the bad bills of the week?

Reason #1:  Many of the bill supporters are actively opposing utility efforts to incorporate solar (Chugach electric) and continue the use of hydro (Eklutna dam) and oppose any mining projects that are necessary to develop the renewable resources they are pursuing – handicapping efforts to reach the goal they desire. Spending money on a lobbyist to advance the bill with one hand  while using the other to ensure the standard can’t be met defies logic.

If we are going to pursue a standard, lets conduct a proper study that looks at all generation options, optimize it for reliability, cost, and carbon,  and stop campaigning against efforts to expand portfolios to include clean energy.