Public Workshop on Conservative Approaches to Renewable Energy
Pennsylvania Senate Majority Policy Committee
Opening Statement from:
Josiah Neeley, Texas Director, R Street Institute

October 22, 2019

Mr. Chairman and members,

My name is Josiah Neeley, and I am a Senior Fellow in Energy Policy with the R Street Institute. R Street is a nonprofit, nonpartisan, public policy research organization with a mission to engage in policy research and outreach to promote free markets and limited, effective government. Thank you for inviting me to testify today on this important topic.

Discussions of energy in this country today are badly polarized. All too often we fall into the habit of treating certain types of energy—such as renewables—as “liberal” while others—such as fossil fuels—are considered “conservative.” This is a mistake. Fuel sources don’t have ideologies, and there are plenty of reasons why people of all political stripes could be in favor of renewable energy.

We’ve seen enormous growth in demand for renewable energy in recent years, particularly in the corporate sector. Businesses like Walmart, General Motors and others have established goals to procure large amounts of renewable energy. The growing interest in renewable energy is due to a variety of factors. Foremost among them is price. Over the past decade, we have seen substantial declines in the price of wind and solar power, to the point where, according to the most recent Lazard report on the Levelized Cost of Electricity, the cost of onshore wind and solar power without subsidies is within the range of the cost for coal-generated electricity. Businesses may also prefer renewable energy as a hedge against price volatility, to take advantage of the growing consumer preference for “green” products or for other reasons.

At R Street, we focus less on promoting individual energy sources than we do on getting the market processes right. Government should not be in the business of picking winners and losers in energy. As such, we do not favor subsidies or mandates to promote or hamper particular fuel sources. Instead, we have focused on ways to achieve better environmental outcomes by removing regulatory barriers and taxes for clean energy sources, and by increasing the use of market competition in the electrical sector. We are pleased to be here and are happy to be a part of today’s discussion.