As the coercive environmental lobby pushes for new regulations, mandates, and taxes here in the U.S., it is important to examine the economic damage caused by these policies in Europe, where they have already been tested.
In Germany, consumers are paying the price for policies that prop up the renewable energy industry in the form of higher electric bills. Germany’s electric companies are raising the surcharge on renewable energy by 47%, an incredibly large spike. When market energy prices go down in Germany, the surcharge for renewable energy goes up, leaving consumers on the hook to pay the difference. A recent Wall Street Journal article highlighted this misguided policy:
"The surcharge represents the difference between the fixed feed-in tariffs paid to renewable producers and the price their electricity fetches on the exchanges. So when the market price is down, as it is this year owing to expanded renewable production, the grid operators pay out more—and pass the difference through to consumers. A system that causes electricity bills to rise when energy prices fall can only be called cruelly ironic."
Meanwhile, Socialist politicians in Paris are pushing for legislation that could be even more detrimental to French residents. They would like to empower bureaucrats to determine who uses energy and natural gas in a ‘resourceful’ way and who uses it in a ’wasteful’ way. Those determined to be wasteful will be punished with higher energy costs, paying as much as 600 euros more per year. Unsurprisingly, the prospect of this law’s passage has caused the value of shares in the nation’s largest electric companies to plummet. This legislation is so over-reaching and onerous that French labor unions have spoken out against it.
The examples of France and Germany illustrate the failure of the command-and-control agenda of “green” groups on the Left. When government attempts to mandate which products consumers use, and in what way they use them, it spells trouble for consumers and employers. If policies such as Cap & Trade or a federal renewable energy mandate on utilities are initiated here in the United States, as many special interest groups supporting President Obama would like to see, it would be foolish to think the results would be any different.