Both Republicans and Democrats have displayed stunning ignorance in recent debates about WV’s Alternative and Renewable Energy Portfolio Standard law. Democrats claim that the law promotes renewable power, which it doesn’t, and Republicans claim that the law is some kind of “cap and trade” scheme, which it isn’t.
In the last couple of election cycles, WV Republicans have launched an attack on the ARPS law as part of their “war on coal” fantasies. This attack uses the claim that the ARPS is a “cap and trade” scheme, because “cap and trade” is associated with purported Obama administration attempts to limit carbon emissions in 2009.
Take a look at the ARPS law at this link. Are there any limits placed on carbon emissions in this law? Is there any scheme to trade carbon emission credits? The answer is no to these questions.
What “caps” there are in the bill are set so high that power companies can meet them from their existing generation portfolios, until the law sunsets in 2025. These “caps” aren’t caps at all if they don’t push power companies to do anything different.
In fact, the bill sets standards designed to encourage specific kinds of electricity generation, among them advanced coal-fired electricity, electricity from natural gas, as well as from renewable sources.
As we know from reports filed with the WV PSC by the two Ohio holding companies that control almost all of WV’s electricity, there is no need to trade any credits of any kind to meet the law’s targets, because AEP and FirstEnergy can meet all of the law’s targets from their own sources of generation, from the passage of the bill in 2009 until 2025 when the law expires.
So, there is no “cap” and there is no “trade.”
In the past, Democrats have tried to defend the ARPS law as somehow promoting renewable power. WV’s law, unlike real renewable portfolio standards in other states, includes credits for coal-fired and natural gas fired generation. As noted above, AEP and FirstEnergy do not need to buy any electricity or credits to meet WV’s fraudulent “standard” for the duration of the law’s life.
As I have argued numerous times, the WV ARPS law was designed by former Gov. Manchin and the WV Legislature specifically to arrest, “cap” if you will, WV citizens from pursuing innovative renewable power independent of the two Ohio monopolies that control our electrical system. The confusion that the law has created in the political debate is just one more feature of the law designed to stifle factual discussion of the issue.
As the new Republican leadership, with help from coal industry Democrats, moves forward with its attempt to repeal WV’s ARPS law, don’t be taken in by claims that the law has anything to do with “cap and trade.” As I have noted in the past, there are lots of reasons to repeal the ARPS law, but it should be done for the right reasons, not out of ignorance inspired by false propaganda.
The one feature of the law that is vital to WV’s future is the continuation of the legal authority granted to the WV PSC to require WV’s Ohio-based electric monopolies to provide net metering options for WV’s solar power producers. The net metering provision of the law, found in §24 – 2 F- 8 of the WV Code, allows homeowners and businesses to get one for one credit against their electric bills for every kilowatt hour they feed back into the power companies.