Massachusetts observes that green power mandates may be raising consumer costs

Michael Giberson

Let’s just say when the best example of a success story is a long-term contract signed by a utility and the Cape Wind project, you haven’t exactly resolved concerns about the practicality or cost-effectiveness of the law.

From the Boston Herald, “AG: Energy costs rising under Mass. renewables law“:

The Green Communities Act, signed in 2008 by Gov. Deval Patrick, was intended to help Massachusetts wean itself off fossil fuels and reduce emissions that lead to global warming.

In remarks prepared for a legislative oversight hearing, [Massachusetts Attorney General Martha] Coakley indicated that a review by her office found plenty to like about the three-year-old law, along with some concerns.

“In short, we have found a number of benefits — including increased energy efficiency programs that lead to savings for many consumers,” Coakley said. “But we also have found that the (law’s) programs have escalating costs that will cause an increase in electricity rates.”

The cost of implementing the law will exceed $4 billion over the next four years, Coakley said, resulting in the estimated 7 percent increase in the total delivered costs of electricity to consumers and businesses. She noted that Massachusetts electric customers already pay some of the highest rates in the nation and that the state is “likely to remain at the top of that list.”

Okay, so they’ve identified the costs at over $4 billion for the next four years. The article doesn’t mention any estimate of the benefits created.

(Note that it wasn’t Coakley that cited the Cape Wind deal, but rather the state’s Secretary of Energy and Environmental Affairs and the chairwoman of the Department of Public Utilities.

“A long-term contract provides the certainty that can be critical in making financing available,” [DPU chairwoman Ann] Berwick said.

Of course she is right! A long-term contract can transfer a substantial portion of the riskiness from the private investors to the utility’s locked-in ratepayers. It can be a great deal for the investor, and I’m sure the investors are quite happy to have government policy and state policymakers helping to ensure a good return on their private investments.

Uh, and by the way ratepayers, your already high rates are going higher.)

StubHub and Major League Baseball

Michael Giberson

It’s been a while since we’ve commented on the secondary market for sports event tickets. Partly, I think, the practice has become legal and common in most circumstances and the on-line markets make the practice more transparent. What was once a seemingly repugnant transaction has been normalized. Or, at least, it is becoming normalized.

At the same time, the expansion of the ticket resale market does have some effect on the one issue at the heart of the sports business: revenue. If you want to get up-to-date on ticket resales and baseball, Dennis Coates at The Sports Economist points to a story from the Sports Business Journal about StubHub, MLB, and other resellers.