Rationing in action

Apparently Al Gore now uses Green Power to light and heat his home, so he isn’t entirely hypocritical.

However, the issue here is that if we want to mitigate carbon emissions, we have to institute rationing of some sort.  Al is living by this principle.  Carbon-free energy in Nashville costs $4 extra per 150 kw, so if you can afford to pay that, you get to live the lifestyle you want.  Gore will pay approximately $6,000 extra this year for the privilege.  A drop in the bucket for him, of course.

Other people, however, who cannot afford to increase their electricity bills overall (by about $300 for the average household, which is probably currently spending around $750 per year on electricity) will therefore have to decrease their electricity use by the equivalent amount – about 4,000 kwh at current (non-green power) prices.  That’s equivalent to not using an air conditioner all summer.  Or you could offset your household’s emissions at $99 or thereabouts and not use your air conditioner for 2 months. (NB, these are hurried back-of-the-envelope calculations.)

Rationing energy has consequences.  The price mechanism means that the rich can enjoy their lifestyles and the poor have to make sacrifices.  Those sacrifices come with social costs of their own.