It’s no secret the District of Columbia faces many real issues. In recent years, its city’s education problems have gained national attention, and this week it is was reported students make on average 300 points less than the national average on the SAT. Nearly 19 % (that’s almost 1/5) of the population lives below the poverty line. And the city faced a $322 million deficit in fiscal year 2012.
But the district announced this week it would be sourcing all its city government power — electricity for schools, fire stations, police, and city officials — from wind energy. The decision is expected to add within $100,000 to an electricity bill that already relies heavily on more expensive alternative energy sources and totals $52 million.
If my family is struggling to make ends meet or succeed in work and education, the last thing I would do is find ways to raise my bills each month. At a time when 8.8 percent of DC’s residents are without work and looking (compared with 8.1 percent nationwide), it makes little sense for the city to focus so heavily raising the costs of government electricity bills.
The decision reflects a negligence and lack of stewardship. Wind energy costs more, and thus only makes up 1.2 percent of energy consumed in the United States. The industry is heavily subsidized, as taxpayers pay for $56 dollars of every megawatt hour of energy produced, and its usage fluctuates greatly according to subsidies given by the federal government.
Getting families out of poverty is a much higher priority than paying more for the cost of government energy. Instead of finding ways to increase the costs to run DC’s city government, the mayor and city council should seek ways to more efficiently use the money it has been given to encourage further investment in education, business, and the basic duties a city government faces.