This winter’s brutally cold “polar vortex” caused energy prices to go up for many Americans — but a growing fragility in the U.S. energy system could make the cost of energy continue to increase indefinitely, an April 25 article in the Los Angeles Times reported.
A recent study predicted that the cost of electricity in California, the country’s leader in sustainable energy initiatives, could rise by more than 47% over the next 16 years, partly as a result of the state’s move toward renewable energy, which is more expensive.
Similarly, other states are closing their existing energy-production facilities in favor of renewable energy sources, which is contributing to the price hike. While the shift is good for the environment — shutting down coal and nuclear energy plants means less environmental concerns and reduced carbon emissions, airborne pollution and risk of disaster, according to gizmodo.com.
“We are now in an era of rising electricity prices,” said Philip Moeller, a member of the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission, who also remarked that the continued reduction in generating capacity across the country means that prices are going to continue going up. “If you take enough supply out of the system, the price is going to increase.”
Moeller also warned that these rapid changes in the way America gets its energy are eroding the energy grid’s capacity to handle unexpected events like the polar vortex. According to the Los Angeles Times, Moeller doesn’t argue against the changes — he just thinks they are being implemented too quickly.
Alex Leupp of the Northern California Power Agency said he believes that the general public will revolt against the price hikes regardless of how necessary they are to protect the environment, according to the gizmodo.com article.
“If power gets too expensive, there will be a revolt,” Leupp said. “If the state pushes too fast on renewables before the technology is viable, it could set back the environmental goals we all believe in at the end of the day.”
The energy sources America has used prior to turning to renewable sources are neither sustainable nor infinite. While increasingly expensive energy bills are something no one wants to see, they may be necessary for the country to move toward an environmentally responsible future.