Production might be cheap (by your premise, which I find unlikely) but distribution costs will remain; running the power grid is nowhere as simple as just stringing a bunch of wires, and assuming that electricity is going to largely take over for fossil fuels in transportation means that the demands upon it are going to be magnified manyfold. Whether coping with the additional demand would require re-regulation or not if a larger issue, but there is still profit to be made.
First of all, fuel cells are not “glorified batteries”. A battery–that is, an electrical energy storage device–can be a type of fuel cell, but it can also be a galvanic cell, a capacitor, or even a mechanical battery like a freewheel. I’m not sure about how they would be “irrelevant”; you’d still have to produce a fuel and oxidizer for them and distribute that, and the resulting byproducts thereof. There is some concern with a hydrogen economy that volitile escaping free hydrogen could have adverse effects, and in any case, portable fuel cell technology is still a very immature field; materials and effeciencies are nowhere near what they’d need to be in order to have the reliability of galvanic batteries.
Just I’m not even sure where you’re coming from with this one.
Nope. Energy production is still going to produce waste heat; industrial manufacture will result in chemical byproduces; a demand for batteries and fuel cells would increase that. You wouldn’t be burning hydrocarbons, of course (or at least not as much) but pollution is hardly eliminated.
It depends; solar and wind are quite useful for off-grid applications where connecting to central power isn’t practical. If your free energy source is compact and scalable so that you could set it up in a remote location then it would largely supplant renewable (but nonsustainable) technologies. If it requires large scale centralized facilities and a distributed grid then independent sources will still have their niche applications, though clearly solar and wind farms would be pointless.
As for the impact upon the cost of goods, I find the conjecture that they would plummet to be overreaching at best; energy costs are typically a small part of the overall manufacturing cost; more costly are materials, labor, facilities and overhead, distribution, marketing, end-sales overhead, and of course, markup (which varies widely as a percentage of total cost). There’s no reason to expect, for instance, that food would become significantly cheaper; ditto for textiles, construction materials, et cetera. The biggest savings would possibly be in physical distribution, but even if you eliminate fuel costs you still have labor, maintainence, and infrastructure costs.
There would also be a massive logistical cost of infrastructure modification and construction to make use of this new energy source, which in the near-term might offset cost savings…but would also stimulate new industries, so the economic impact is uncertain in extent and development but likely to be positive. Overall, it would be a good thing for humanity, but hardly the Horn of Amalthea that some would assert. Human nature being what it is we’d still find something to fight over, gouge each other about, and otherwise waste and worry.