December 22, 2009
Madison, WI (December 22, 2009) In response to a recent report from the Wisconsin Public Research Institute (WPRI) concluding that policies to increase renewable energy production would be prohibitively expensive, RENEW Wisconsin, a leading sustainable energy advocacy organization, today issued a critique documenting the faulty assumptions and methodological errors that undermine the credibility of that finding.
WPRI’s report, titled “The Economics of Climate Change Proposals in Wisconsin,” reviewed the proposal in the Governor’s Global Warming Task Force to increase the state’s renewable energy requirements on electric utilities to 25% by 2025, and estimated a total cost in excess $16 billion. RENEW’s analysis, which is online, uncovered a disturbing pattern of “methodological sleight-of-hand, assumptions from outer space, and selective ignoring of facts” that render WPRI’s cost estimate to be completely unreliable.
“It appears that WPRI’s $16 billion number was pulled out of thin air, and that its analysis is nothing more than a tortured effort at reverse-engineering the numbers to fit the preordained conclusion,” said Michael Vickerman, RENEW Wisconsin executive director.
Specifically, RENEW identified four significant errors in WPRI’s analytical approach. The critique says:
+ It relies on a grossly inflated electricity sales forecast that is completely detached from current realities.
+ The final cost estimate includes all the generation built to comply with the current renewable energy standard, a clear-cut case of double-counting.
+ The authors fail to account for existing renewable generation capacity that is not currently being applied to a state renewable energy standard.
+ There is a high likelihood that the savings from the renewable energy standard are undervalued, because the authors fail to model plant retirements in their analysis.
“In the final analysis, it would be too generous to describe the analytical approach taken here as incompetent or slipshod,” Vickerman said. “What we have here instead is disinformation, pure and simple, and it should be called out as such, especially as the Legislature begins consideration of arguably the most important economic development and environmental protection initiative in many years.”
RENEW Wisconsin (www.renewwisconsin.org) is an independent, nonprofit 501(c)(3) organization that acts as a catalyst to advance a sustainable energy future through public policy and private sector initiatives.