Sustainability: Doubts about PPACG
The Pikes Peak Area Council of Governments (PPACG) has no clothes. The sustainability yarn being spun by the organization has a zero thread count. [See “Sustainability plan? Dream or Nightmare” in Nov. 24 Westside Pioneer.] At a time when every dollar must be spent wisely they are proposing changes in renewable energy use and transportation that will cost many times more than the current approach. Their plan does not pass any economic or cost/benefit analysis and is certainly not sustainable. Let me explain.
To see the error of PPACG's goal of increasing renewable energy use to 50 percent by 2030 we need to go no farther than the new solar project at the Air Force Academy. Published full cost/benefit evaluations of projects like this show that these projects require about 75 years of operation to produce the revenue to achieve payout but that the solar panels wear out in about 25 years. No bank or private investor would invest in projects like this. The full $18 million cost of the AFA project is being paid for with federal stimulus-fund dollars. Renewable energy projects go forward only when tax incentives, rebates and subsides are provided, or the full cost is paid for by the government. Hardy sustainable!
PPACG's major goal of reducing personal vehicle usage by 50 percent with a corresponding increase use of public transportation also doesn't survive basic economic evaluation. According to a report titled “Colorado Transit: A Costly Failure” prepared by Independence Institute “Americans drive for 85 percent of their travel not because we are addicted to the automobile but because autos are both more convenient and less expensive than most alternatives.” Using Bureau of Economic Analysis statistics, the Independence Institute reported, “The total cost of driving in Colorado (2007) is just over 23 cents per passenger mile” including “a subsidy of 1.9 cents”. “By comparison... the cost of public transit in Colorado is $1.00 per passenger mile, $0.84 is subsidized by non-transit users.”
It appears PPACG's “S” word is subsidize, and its only sustainable goal is another federal grant!