Another Government Mandate; First They Force You to Buy Health Insurance, Then Wind Power, Too

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Byline: Paul Chesser, SPECIAL TO THE WASHINGTON TIMES

Sen. Jeff Bingaman, New Mexico Democrat, and Sen. Sam Brownback, Kansas Republican (and the party's gubernatorial nominee) must be gluttons for punishment.

Mandates to buy things - pushed by Washington - have fouled the political air. The public, which is shown in polls to hate Obamacare, hate most the part that obligates them to buy health insurance. What else do they despise? The ban on the incandescent light bulb, which begins to take effect in 2012 and will force everyone to buy higher-priced mercury-filled compact fluorescents for the rest of their lives. More than a few people hope for a repeal of both measures after the November elections.

So Americans are tired of the dictating, but what do the aforementioned senators do? They dictate more, with a proposed law that will force you to procure part of your electricity from windmills, solar farms and other costly sources. It's called a Renewable Electricity Standard (RES), brought to you by politicians who think they know what's good for you.

It works this way: The nation's biggest utilities (think Exelon, Duke Energy, Xcel Energy), which supply the majority of the country's power, are coerced into generating a minimum percentage of their electricity from alternative energy. It's 15 percent under the Bingaman-Brownback bill. It costs much more for these resources - even after heavy subsidies from government - so the utilities must pass on the rate increases to their customers.

A study by the Washington-based Institute for Energy Research found that states with their own binding renewable electricity standards have 40 percent higher electricity prices than do states without such mandates. It is impossible to determine how much the extra costs are attributable to an RES (they are still relatively new), but the states that have them - mostly on the West Coast and in the upper Midwest and the Northeast - are generally known for greater government energy-market regulation than are those who don't have them - mostly in the South. You get the picture.

But the implications won't stop with the rise you see on your monthly power bill. Business and industry, which provide the products and services you consume every day, will not absorb these extra costs for the overall cause to go green. They will instead incorporate them in their charges to you. …