Solving energy poverty was a liberal cause, but green energy policies may have made it much worse

Since 2005, the share of energy consumption from wind and solar power has increased from 0.5% to nearly 15% in 2022. Since 2005, the average price for electricity in the U.S. has increased from 5 cents per kilowatt hour to 17.3 cents per kilowatt hour in February 2024.
solar panels

Fighting energy poverty is a cause many liberal organizations claim to champion, and often the solution they propose is a transition away from fossil fuels. As energy costs rise and people take a closer look at the negative effects energy transition has on the problem, that may start to change.

Rising costs

A recent report from the Rocky Mountain Institute, a Colorado-based anti-fossil fuel nonprofit, estimated that in the U.S., 1 in 7 families live in energy poverty. The study then goes on to say that “shifting away from fossil fuels and toward renewable energy sources should reduce the prices all consumers pay to electrify and fuel their homes.”

The share of energy consumption from wind and solar power has increased from 0.5% in 2005 to nearly 15% in 2022. At the same time, since 2005, the average price for electricity in the U.S. has increased from 5 cents per kilowatt hour to 17.3 cents per kilowatt hour in February 2024.

Renewable energy proponents promised that wind and solar energy would produce lower energy bills, but now that the so-called energy transition is nearing its 20th year with electricity rates rising higher than inflation, conservatives are taking up the cause of energy poverty and pointing to green energy as the primary culprit.

During a House Committee on Natural Resources in April 2023, Rep. Harriett Hageman, R-Wyo., grilled Interior Secretary Deb Haaland about her knowledge of the term “energy poverty.”

Hageman started out asking if the Interior Department had approved any new coal leases during Haaland’s tenure. Haaland said she would have to get back to Hageman on the answer.

“Madam secretary, do you believe energy poverty is a good thing?” Hageman then asked Haaland.

“I don’t know the term,” Haaland answered.

As Hageman pressed Haaland on the issue, Haaland stated that moving forward on clean energy goals will make energy more affordable. When Hageman asked Haaland if fossil fuels would be part of the affordable energy picture, Haaland again expressed support for an energy transition.

“What people understand is that living with 18% inflation is unacceptable and unaffordable. Energy poverty is a cruel and deliberate way for Biden and Haaland to control people’s habits,” Hageman told Just The News.

She said that the goal of the Biden administration is to deny American choices between fossil fuels and renewable energy, gasoline and electric powered vehicles, or gas and electric stoves.

“Biden and his bureaucrats want full control of our lives. By using the term ‘energy poverty,’ people begin to realize the root cause of their struggles and can more effectively fight back,” Hageman said.

Full costs realized

It is often reported that wind and solar are cheaper than fossil fuel-powered generation based on what’s called levelized cost of energy (LCOE), a metric developed by the financial firm Lazard. However, Doomberg, a team of advisors in the energy space who publish their analyses on Substack, explain that LCOE assumes that people use energy whenever it’s available and just stop when it’s not.

“In fact, LCOE turns the law of supply and demand on its head, essentially assuming that electricity is needed only when available. Rather than responding to consumer preferences, the grid in the LCOE model is expected to react to the production variance of these weather-dependent intermittent renewables,” Doomberg explained.

Wind and solar only produce electricity under certain weather conditions. To produce a reliable electricity supply,  transmission lines, baseload backup, and storage systems are required, and none of these costs are factored into the Lazard analysis.

Electricity rates are not just impacting utility bills that households pay. They’re also eliminating jobs. A semiconductor manufacturer in New York is getting pushback over its plans to expand its operations — which would create 1,500 jobs, in addition to 9,000 temporary construction jobs — because of the state’s dwindling electricity supply as New York shuts down nuclear and fossil fuel-powered generation.

In Minnesota, a foundry is shutting down because it can no longer afford the state’s rising electricity rates, which have been increasing as the state pursues 100% renewable energy by 2040.

The Washington Post last week wrote about how increasing electricity demand from data centers and clean-technology factories is running up against the decreasing supply of electricity in the U.S.

Some European countries, such as Germany, which are much further along in the pursuit of an energy transition, are also seeing industries, crushed under the weight of rising energy costs, shut down.

Global message

The cause of solving energy poverty with renewable energy isn’t limited to the United States. Former U.S. Climate Envoy John Kerry often lobbied for Africa to not develop its fossil fuel resources and instead rely on wind and solar.

For Jusper Machogu, a fossil fuel advocate and farmer living in rural Kenya, it’s infuriating when people in the West, which developed their economies with fossil fuels, tell Africa not to do the same. “How dare they? These people are alive thanks to fossil fuels. Food produced by fossil fuel fertilizer, transported to them using fossil-fueled trucks and kept fresh using fossil-fuel electricity,” Machogu told Just The News.

In Kenya, the average annual per-capita use of electricity is 1,953 kilowatt hours, whereas in the U.S. it’s 78,754 kilowatt hours. One kilowatt hour could power 10 100-watt light bulbs for one hour, or run a 1000-watt microwave for one hour.

Machogu encourages people who advocate against Africa developing fossil fuels to come and farm without modern machinery powered by diesel and modern fertilizers as is the practice in much of Kenya.

“They should try my Sustainable Internship Program if they think what Africa needs is solar and wind and not fossil fuels that they have in plenty,” Machogu said.

Hageman said that the problem of energy poverty in the U.S. will continue to grow until there’s an administration change in the White House.

“Joe Biden has proven time and again that he is being controlled by radical progressive democrats in his administration,” Hageman said.

She said that de-facto bans on permitting, the stoppage of pipeline construction, and the costly regulatory burdens increase the cost for oil, gas and coal companies, which increases the costs of energy to consumers. And that's on top of the taxpayer-funded subsidies for wind and solar, she said.

“All of this makes the cost of living unaffordable for Americans suffering through Biden’s economic policies and inflation," Hageman said.