Renewable Energy: Good Or Bad For Seniors?

What’s wrong with renewable energy? Well, on the surface, nothing. Any comprehensive energy policy needs to include renewable energy to ensure energy independence for our nation over the long term.

But, the key to increased reliance upon renewable energy is its gradual implementation, over the long term. America’s energy providers have invested billions into our current energy providing infrastructure – all paid for by you through your monthly utility bills. Further investments need to be made to effectively and reliably produce and utilize renewable energy resources.

The cost of those needed investments: hundreds of billions of dollars. Renewable resources are much more expensive than our current energy-producing assets, and in these uncertain economic times, an aggressive renewable energy standard (RES) will result in a sharp increase in utility bills when people can least afford them. Worse, energy costs are regressive, meaning, the less one earns the higher percentage of his or her income is spent – which generally describes seniors who live on fixed incomes.

Daryl Bassett, Director of Empower Consumers, said it best in his April 23, 2009 testimony before the House Committee on Energy & Commerce:

“Older Americans are disproportionately affected by higher energy costs. As a share of income, households headed by a person age 65 or older spend more on energy bills than younger households. As CRS recently reported, ‘Older households account for approximately 20% of our nation’s total consumption on energy-related products. Although in actual dollar terms older households spend slightly less on energy-related consumption than households headed by a person under age 65, they spend a higher share of their income on energy-related expenditures.’ …In this sense, a federal RES behaves like a regressive income tax.”

Last June, the U.S. House of Representatives barely passed a federal RES that would require a mandated percentage of energy to be produced from renewable resources. Again, a laudable goal, but one that will have a serious negative impact for many of our retired citizens, especially since this legislation did not include adequate cost-containment measures to ensure consumers don’t get hit with massive increases in their energy costs.

In the coming weeks, the U.S. Senate will begin considering federal RES legislation. Now is the time to make your voice heard on this important issue. Please contact your Senators and let them know you oppose federal Renewable Energy Standards because the cost is just too high for seniors.