While the renewable energy industry is growing, governments haven’t seized at the chance to buy a big piece of that market. The New York Times reported over the weekend that officials in Florida, Idaho, Kentucky and Virginia had rejected deals to buy green energy, with cost an overriding factor:
“Electricity generated from wind or sun still generally costs more — and sometimes a lot more — than the power squeezed from coal or natural gas. Prices for fossil fuels have dropped in part because the recession has reduced demand. In the case of natural gas, newer drilling techniques have opened the possibility of vast new supplies for years to come.
“The gap in price can pit regulators, who see their job as protecting consumers from unreasonable rates, against renewable energy developers and utility companies, many of which are willing to pay higher prices now to ensure a broader energy portfolio in the future.”
The reticence of buyers could make solar projects like the one outgoing Gov. Phil Bredesen has invested in a challenge — or, for those who prefer a gloomier view, an outright failure. Bredesen has spent some of his last days in the governor’s post defending his role in forming the company, Solar Ranch Corp., with two cabinet members, even though he’s been highly visible in his advocacy of the industry, backed by tax dollars, as governor.