Europe’s “Green Energy” Dream has Become a Nightmare

The U.S. Energy Information Administration’s “Today in Energy” chart on November 18 illustrates a huge problem with Europe’s aggressive renewable energy subsidies and mandates — European electricity prices have risen at an astonishing rate, compared to American prices:

European Electricity Prices

EIA attributes much of the problem to Europe’s regulatory policies, noting,

“In 2013, average residential electricity rates in European Union (EU) countries were more than double rates in the United States. Regulatory structures—including taxes and other user fees, investment in renewable energy technologies, and the mix and cost of fuels—all influence electricity prices…Taxes and levies explain high prices in some European countries. EU countries taxed residential electricity rates at an average of 31% in 2013, up from an average of 23% in 2006.”

The Institute for Energy Research has repeatedly pointed out the follies of European countries’ energy policies in case studies on Germany, Spain, and Denmark. Residents of each of these countries pay far more in the electricity bills than Americans do, in part because of aggressive renewable energy subsidies and mandates.

In Spain, for example, electricity prices have risen by 92 percent from 2005 to 2011. Consider one Spaniard, Juan Luis Presa, whose story appeared in the Spanish newspaper El País. Presa is 62 years-old and lost his job. Neither of his two children is currently employed. Out of the check from the government the family receives for $582.2 per year, they must spend $109.3 on electricity.

During the winter of early 2014, his electric radiator remained turned off. Instead of using electricity to make their home warmer, Presa and his family coped with the cold temperatures by using more blankets and wearing heavier clothing. Theirs is a story of energy poverty that is now all too common in Europe.

It’s time to wise up–Europe’s failed “green energy” policies are not a model for the U.S. to follow. We would do well to learn from Europe’s mistakes.


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