Get ready for electricity prices to “necessarily skyrocket”

posted at 10:30 am on June 12, 2011 by Ed Morrissey

Have you had a lot of fun watching the price of gasoline shoot out of sight this year at the pump?  That will be just the appetizer.  Thanks to new regulations from the Obama administration, power companies will shut down a significant number of coal-fired plants by 2014, and without any other reliable sources of mass-produced electricity, consumers will see their bills go up as much as 60% (via Instapundit and Newsalert):

Consumers could see their electricity bills jump an estimated 40 to 60 percent in the next few years.

The reason: Pending environmental regulations will make coal-fired generating plants, which produce about half the nation’s electricity, more expensive to operate. Many are expected to be shuttered.

The increases are expected to begin to appear in 2014, and policymakers already are scrambling to find cheap and reliable alternative power sources. If they are unsuccessful, consumers can expect further increases as more expensive forms of generation take on a greater share of the electricity load.

You won’t just pay more to the utility company, either.  The Chicago Tribune runs the math on public-sector cost increases in just their city:

What analysts know is that a portion of ComEd bills that pays electricity generators to reserve a portion of their power three years into the future will increase more than fourfold. That would translate into increases of $107 to $178 a year for an average residential customer in ComEd’s territory, starting in 2014, according to calculations by Chris Thomas, policy director for consumer advocacy group Citizens Utility Board.

In 2014 those so-called capacity costs are expected to add approximately $2.7 million over the previous year to electricity bills in Chicago Public Schools, $3.3 million for the Metropolitan Water Reclamation District and $5.4 million to the city of Chicago, according to an analysis by Tenaska, aNebraska-based power development company that wants to develop a coal-fed power plant in central Illinois that would meet stringent regulations because it would capture and sequester emissions.

It’s the EPA gift that keeps on … taking.

On the other hand, we can consider this a rarity — an Obama promise kept:

Obama told the Chronicle:

The problem is not technical, uh, and the problem is not mastery of the legislative intricacies of Washington. The problem is, uh, can you get the American people to say, “This is really important,” and force their representatives to do the right thing? That requires mobilizing a citizenry. That requires them understanding what is at stake. Uh, and climate change is a great example.

You know, when I was asked earlier about the issue of coal, uh, you know — Under my plan of a cap and trade system, electricity rates would necessarily skyrocket. Even regardless of what I say about whether coal is good or bad. Because I’m capping greenhouse gases, coal power plants, you know, natural gas, you name it — whatever the plants were, whatever the industry was, uh, they would have to retrofit their operations. That will cost money. They will pass that money on to consumers.

They — you — you can already see what the arguments will be during the general election. People will say, “Ah, Obama and Al Gore, these folks, they’re going to destroy the economy, this is going to cost us eight trillion dollars,” or whatever their number is. Um, if you can’t persuade the American people that yes, there is going to be some increase in electricity rates on the front end, but that over the long term, because of combinations of more efficient energy usage, changing lightbulbs and more efficient appliance, but also technology improving how we can produce clean energy, the economy would benefit.

If we can’t make that argument persuasively enough, you — you, uh, can be Lyndon Johnson, you can be the master of Washington. You’re not going to get that done.

Even without cap-and-trade — or perhaps more accurately, even with a backdoor carbon tax through regulatory adventurism — Obama kept his promise to have electricity rates skyrocketing, and putting the burden on consumers, business, and taxpayers.  Who said that every Obama promise comes with an expiration date?

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