An association of Massachusetts businesses that have been upset about Gov. Deval Patrick Patrick’s green and renewable energy programs plans to launch an online calculator designed to estimate the cost of government environmental programs for businesses and individuals, according to a report in the Boston Herald.
The group, known as the Associated Industries of Massachusetts (AIM) said the “energy surcharge calculator” will allow businesses to type in the amount of energy they use, and see an estimate of how much the government’s environmental initiatives are adding to their electricity bill. According to AIM, the programs add a combined $206 million per year for the next 15 years.
The governor’s office has described AIM’s calculator as inaccurate and exaggerated. According to the governor, the calculator fails to factor in cost savings generated by the environmental initiatives, and use a static model for gas and electric prices that assumes fossil fuel costs will remain at the relatively low levels of the past several years. AIM denied the claim, saying that its numbers are accurate and are derived from the state’s Department of Energy Resources.
The calculator tracks the costs of four recent environmental and energy programs: the Cape Wind project, the Regional Greenhouse Gas Initiative, a requirement to purchase solar-energy, and an efficiency surcharge on gas and electric bills. Several other programs, including a solar buyback program and investments in smart grid technology, will not be factored into the calculator.
However, AIM said it does not oppose the new measure, but is only pushing for more cost-benefit analysis prior to their implementation.
The head of the state’s Department of Energy Resources said that the new environmental initiatives could in fact cost more, but that running a simple calculation ignored the economic value of external benefits such as a cleaner environment and reducing dependence on foreign energy supplies.
Several Massachusetts businesses and associations recently complained that the governor’s plan to increase solar power purchases would cost them more money. Employees with the state’s executive branch are also now required to shut down their computers when they are not in use in an effort to save more electricity.