07.09.2012 2

EPA in the dark on electricity costs

EPA LogoBy Rebekah Rast — On Jan. 17, 2008, President Obama revealed to the San Francisco Chronicle what is finally becoming reality for America’s main energy producers.

He said, “So if somebody wants to build a coal-powered plant, they can; it’s just that it will bankrupt them because they’re going to be charged a huge sum for all that greenhouse gas that’s being emitted.”

The Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) has followed the president’s agenda and is nearing its goal of bankrupting many coal-fired power plants.  By hyper-regulating air pollutions, carbon dioxide, mercury and other air emissions, if government policies stay on the same course, the coal industry is facing a losing battle.

However, it won’t just be coal miners and power plant workers who lose should the EPA continue to get its way.  Every American that flips on a light switch or likes their air conditioning loses this battle. If you are of the thinking that these overreaching regulations on coal aren’t so bad, you better not complain about a much higher electricity bill.

Institute for Energy Research data shows that 34.7 gigawatts (GW) of electrical generating capacity will close as a result of the Mercury and Air Toxics Rule (Utility MACT) and the Cross State Air Pollution Rule (CSAPR) regulations—nearly 10 percent of our coal energy capacity. And that’s just the result of two rules placed on coal by the EPA.

A Sierra Club estimate is even more generous, expecting the closings of 319 coal-fueled generating units totaling 42,895 megawatts or 42.9 gigawatts—about 13 percent of the nation’s coal fleet  as a result of these overbearing rules on the coal industry.

However, these rules are having no impact on the demand for coal.  Despite the EPA restricting coal production there is still a constant worldwide demand for the resource.  Therefore, energy prices have nowhere to go but up.

By 2015, when coal power plants must abide by environmental rules or shutdown, residential customers can expect to pay 10 percent higher electricity costs, or between $150 and $330 a year more than what they are paying now.

But some states can expect to see even higher prices.  For example, families and businesses in Illinois could pay 20 percent more for electricity by 2014. In fact, Chicago public schools may have to find an extra $2.7 million a year to keep the lights and heat on and computers running.

Is shutting down a cost-efficient, productive industry worth all this additional cost?

A new power plant in Indiana, costing a total of $3.3 billion due to the need for special outfitting to comply with environmental rules, will cost its customers a 15 percent rate hike for the next two years.

The list of costs as a result of hyper-regulation by the EPA goes on and on.  Energy consumers nationwide will be affected by these rules and regulations.

Not surprisingly, the EPA doesn’t have a plausible plan B that it deems to be environmentally acceptable.  Once the coal industry is pushed out of business, there is no other energy producer to make up for the 45 percent loss of energy production.  It won’t come from wind, solar, hydro or any other “green” energy source.  Even combined these sources don’t make up even close to the amount of electricity America demands.

As Americans across the country face electricity outages and no air conditioning, it might be a good time to reevaluate our president’s agenda of bankrupting our main electricity providers.  Fewer coal plants generating electricity could quite possible mean more days of blackouts.

Unfortunately this is one promise President Obama has not broken.

Rebekah Rast is a contributing editor to Americans for Limited Government (ALG) and NetRightDaily.com. You can follow her on twitter at @RebekahRast.

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