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February 14, 2014

Heating Up a Controversy

Contrasting the free market with Obama’s regulatory state.

During his 2008 campaign, then-Senator Barack Obama said that electricity prices would “necessarily skyrocket” under his grandiose idea of a cap-and-trade energy scheme to fight global warming. Well, he actually kept his promise of higher prices. Meanwhile, with the Southern and Mid-Atlantic states currently buried beneath snow and ice, the only place that seems to be getting warmer is the area around a massive solar energy project in the California desert.

Since coming online last year, and even in the preliminary testing, dozens of dead birds have been found surrounding the Ivanpah solar power plant, which uses a five-square-mile array of mirrors to reflect sunlight to boilers mounted on three 40-story high towers. The temperatures around the towers reportedly can reach 1,000 degrees, which is enough to cook any size bird unfortunate enough to fly through the area. All this to create just enough electricity to light 140,000 homes a year at a cost of $2.2 billion. Most of that came from a $1.6 billion federal loan guarantee, which means taxpayers are on the hook for three Solyndras here. A sure sign of exorbitant expense: utilities that are purchasing the power from Ivanpah aren’t releasing the cost of their 25-year deals.

And while Ivanpah represents an ideal source of electricity in Barack Obama’s world, the rest of us who live in the real world are enjoying a winter without the sticker shock of crippling natural gas prices. Despite a bitterly cold winter that caused a record-setting day for natural gas usage back in January, prices haven’t been as unstable as in previous winters, even with a 40% jump. The reason? Americans are extracting their own natural gas through the environmentally incorrect practice of fracking.

So let’s compare. The ideal for Barack Obama costs up to four times as much to produce a kilowatt of electricity, has the potential to cook hundreds or even thousands of birds annually in a giant oven, and is secured by a $1.6 billion taxpayer-backed loan guarantee. On the other hand, private enterprise has created a situation where supply shortages are smoothed out and costs are relatively stable – not to mention the side benefit of producing thousands of good-paying jobs.

We’d be nuts not to embrace the method shown to us by the private sector, but everyone knows Obama is crazy about “fundamentally transforming” the nation we know and love.

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