When California recently experienced rolling blackouts as a last-resort measure used by utilities to avoid a total blackout of the power system, Gov. Gavin Newsom blamed the situation on a failure to predict and plan for an energy shortage.
What Gov. Newsom failed to state was the obvious: The blackouts were a result of self-inflicted pain and interrupting the free market with state mandates that never work.
Alex Epstein, author of “The Moral Case for Fossil Fuels,” identified the problem for California and other states when he wrote, “Policies mandating unreliable solar and wind electricity are making our electricity grid more unreliable every year.”
Epstein identified three ways this has worked: mandating the use of unreliable wind and solar, prematurely closing reliable coal and nuclear plants and stopping the construction of natural gas infrastructure.
Harnessing fossil fuels mitigates the effects of extreme weather patterns. Homes and businesses are kept at comfortable temperatures, water is pumped from great depths underground, agricultural production is revolutionized and the standard of living and quality of life is improved. Electricity produced by fossil fuels and nuclear energy has helped mankind everywhere adapt to natural climate cycles. If the goal is to promote the flourishing of humankind, nothing makes a bigger difference than reliable sources of energy.
Although not adequately acknowledged, our quality of life today is a result of the discovery, development and use of natural resources. The lives of everyone around the world are improved thanks to fossil fuels, knowledge and creativity. The environment has improved as demonstrated by measurements of air quality and clean drinking water. Freedom to innovate means challenges continue to be overcome to make our lives more comfortable and secure.
The beauty of a free market is consumers and producers work off prices and profits. The best source of energy is one that’s reliable, plentiful and affordable. Whenever government policies mandate the elimination of one type of energy use over another, the unintended consequences make the situation worse. This was evident in California, where polices mandating the use of unreliable, intermittent solar and wind-generated electricity interfered with the electricity grid. As a result, there wasn’t enough electricity to meet the needs of users. Disrupting the market with arbitrary mandates creates shortages.
Competition in a free market economy produces the best ideas. The energy sector is no different. The key to improving energy sources depends on having the freedom to develop and compete in the marketplace. This freedom means every form of energy has the right to develop. Innovation routinely fulfills the needs of consumers who act in their own best interests.
Government interference orchestrated by central planning is not the way to establish an energy policy. Energy is vital to our standard of living. Entrepreneurs need the freedom of a market economy to innovate to better serve mankind in all facets of life, but none more than energy.
Phyllis Hunsinger is founder of the Freedom & Responsibility Education Enterprise Foundation in Grand Junction. The foundation provides resources to students and teachers in Western Colorado to promote an understanding of economics, financial literacy and free enterprise. For more information, visit www.free-dom.us.com. A former teacher, principal and superintendent, Hunsinger wrote “Down and Dirty: A ‘How To’ Math Book.” Reach Hunsinger by email at firstname.lastname@example.org.