Businesses eager to jump aboard the Environmental Protection Agency’s controversial “Clean Power Plan” (CPP) will drive up electricity costs for their customers, ironically reducing consumers’ disposable income and threatening their own bottom line.
While critics have dubbed the contentious plan “ObamaAir,” dozens of companies signed onto a letter to President Obama urging support for the power grab as a “critical step in moving our country towards a clean energy economy.” But the measure could also mean the end for most of the nation’s 557 coal-fired power plants, which currently provide close to 40 percent of all electricity generated in the U.S. The U.S. Chamber of Commerce reports that the Clean Power Plan would also result in the loss of 224,000 jobs per year through 2030.
Advocated by corporate giants, small companies, and privileged energy players like SolarCity and Sungevity, the plan will leave ratepayers with a hefty bill. The annual cost increases will approach $4.4 billion, with an increase of $610 per household by 2020.
That’s a pricey proposition for Coloradans.
The EPA’s plan ostensibly would result in a 30-percent reduction in carbon emissions by 2030 by increasing power plant and consumer efficiency, promoting wind and solar, and implementing fuel switching.
United by concerns over climate change, powerhouse international corporations like IKEA, Nike, Kellogg, Nestle, and Mars stand alongside Colorado outfits like Aspen Skiing Company and New Belgium Brewing as they applaud the new “carbon pollution standard” for allowing more state flexibility in adopting EPA compliant standards.
Yet energy experts say the flexibility is a façade because the EPA offers no flexibility in the emissions goal or the timeline, which is unrealistically tight.
In supporting the CPP, these corporations support an unprecedented usurpation of state power by the EPA that would fundamentally overhaul the electric industry without congressional or voter approval. These corporations support replacing trained engineers with environmental regulators to make decisions on electricity generation and dispatch.
These corporations seem unaware that energy costs are tied into every aspect of the economy, going far beyond what ratepayers pay to heat, cool, light, and power their homes. In the wake of devastating job loss will come a dramatic $586 billion reduction in disposable income for the country’s households according the U.S Chamber. That means less money available for everything from child care to extracurricular activities, which means less money in the economy overall.
The backbone of a modern, growing economy is affordable and reliable energy. Measures that unnecessarily increase the cost of our power and endanger the reliability of our electric grid will put our economy at significant risk.
And while well-heeled corporations can afford to support an increased energy bill by calling it an investment and passing along the costs to consumers like you and me, individual ratepayers will suffer as their monthly bill skyrockets. The elderly, minorities, and urban poor are most at risk from the EPA’s onerous anti-energy regulations.
In contrast, crony companies like SolarCity stand to benefit immensely from regulations aimed at increasing their market share. The EPA clearly intends to deal a knockout blow to coal, making distributed and utility-scale solar an attractive alternative as states rush to comply with their own EPA-driven plan—or a plan crafted for them by the agency should they balk.
The U.S. Chamber, the National Federation of Independent Businesses, labor unions, and others oppose the hastily drawn EPA power grab. Former Colorado Public Utilities chair Ray Gifford recently called the proposed carbon regulations a “federal collision between the EPA and the states.”
“ … The question is more a political one than a legal one. Does the EPA have the legal authority and the political will to, in essence, take over the electricity generation in a lot of states?” Gifford asked.
Apparently EPA does have that will. And as we’ve seen, the administration’s corporate allies heartily support that hostile takeover.
Michael Sandoval is a research associate for the Energy Policy Center at the Independence Institute, a free market think tank in Denver.