Guest Blog: Kelley Earnhardt Miller on Family Energy Costs

Posted by Kelley Earnhardt Miller at 9:58 am, April 27, 2015

As a mother of three, I know how challenging it can be to balance our family’s hectic schedule alongside paying the bills. When bills rise unexpectedly, it puts the brakes on a family’s budget.

This is especially true of rising bills that come from necessities like electricity. It’s worrisome when we see electricity rates rising because this expense directly hits parents’ pocketbooks. Money that would be spent on summer camp, college savings and family vacations among other activities has to be diverted just to keep the lights on at home.

We’re glad that North Carolina’s electricity rates are nearly 11 percent lower than the national average, which is largely attributable to our state’s use of coal to generate low-cost, reliable power. Our partner, America’s Power, is committed to ensuring that we all have access to affordable, reliable power no matter where we live as no one should be left in the dark or facing bills they can ill afford to pay.

Until I check back in again in May, I hope you will join me in learning more about coal-based electricity and the role it plays not just in your daily life but in your communities too.

 


Get the Facts on Coal-Based Electricity

Posted by Julia Treanor at 9:00 am, April 24, 2015

As you read this post from your computer, tablet or smart phone, there’s a good chance it’s powered by coal-based electricity. In fact, many of the devices, machines, cars, buildings and communities around you are fueled by coal, which provides 39 percent of America’s electricity.

This fact and much more can be found on CoalFacts.org, a site aimed at educating Americans about our nation’s most abundant and affordable fuel source. Just one short visit to the site reveals:

  1. The U.S. has the world’s largest recoverable coal reserves – enough to power current demand for nearly 300 years.
  2. States that use more coal to generate electricity have lower electricity rates on average.
  3. Coal is responsible for more than 700,000 jobs in the U.S.
  4. Emissions from coal-fueled power plants have decreased by 90 percent since 1970.

 As our economy and energy needs grow, coal will continue to play a critical role in providing affordable, reliable and increasingly clean electricity for our nation. By sharing these coal facts with others, you can help promote a more secure energy future for America.

Coal Facts_Montage_FINAL_04.22.15

Read the study, share our graphics on Facebook and explore CoalFacts.org to spread the word about affordable, reliable coal-based electricity.

 

 


Senator Boxer’s Skewed Idea of the Truth – Sky-High Electricity Rates in California Make the Case for Coal

Posted by Laura Sheehan at 11:49 am, April 23, 2015

At a Senate Environment & Public Works Committee hearing this past March examining state viewpoints on the Environmental Protection Agency’s Clean Power Plan, Senator Barbara Boxer (D-CA) made quite the dubious claim about electricity bills in California and Oklahoma, stating:

“California households pay the ninth lowest electricity bills in the country….It may interest our Chairman to know that the Energy Information Administration found last month that California’s monthly residential electricity bill averaged $90.19 compared to Oklahoma’s monthly bill which averaged $110.47.”

This statement, however, boldly skews the truth and requires a closer look at the facts.

Californians actually pay much higher electricity rates than Oklahomans, and far higher than the national average. Data from EIA, the same source Senator Boxer cited in her remarks, confirms California residents paid 16.29 cents per kilowatt hour (kWh) for electricity in 2014, 30 percent higher than the national average. Oklahoma residents, on the other hand, paid 9.96 cents per kWh, or 20 percent lower than the national average.

What Senator Boxer also fails to mention is the amount of electricity the average California household uses versus the average Oklahoma household. In California, average electricity use per household is 557 kWh per month – the 3rd lowest in the United States. Oklahoma, by contrast, uses 1,142 kWh per month – the 9th highest in the nation.

So while Californians pay much higher rates for electricity, families pay less for their monthly bill for one overarching fact the good Senator neglected to mention – electricity is so expensive few can afford it and, therefore, use it sparingly. With rates that high, can you really blame them?

Coal-based power is affordable and reliable. As Chairman Inhofe’s (R-OK) home state of Oklahoma shows us, states that use coal as their main source of electricity tend to have lower, more consistent electricity rates. Despite the rhetoric legislators may espouse in Senate hearings, coal continues to be the best answer for affordable power no matter where you live.

 


You Could Win a Chance to Meet Dale Jr., Fly to Florida for NASCAR’s Championship Weekend

Posted by Julia Treanor at 9:00 am, April 20, 2015

Dale Earnhardt, Jr. is a giant in the world of NASCAR. He’s been dubbed America’s Favorite Driver for 12 years in a row – and now you have a chance to meet him.

America’s Power is pleased to announce today the launch of our “Meet Dale Jr. Contest,” an exciting opportunity for fans across the country to spend time with the NASCAR legend. Once you sign up with America’s Power, you have a chance to win our grand prize: a four-day trip for two to the NASCAR XFINITY Series and Sprint Cup Series races in Homestead, Florida this November, including a private meet-and-greet with Dale Jr.

Our partnership with Dale Jr. and his team is only natural. As a business owner, he knows first-hand how important affordable, reliable energy is to keeping costs low and productivity high. Dale’s business, JR Motorsports, relies on low-cost power from coal to keep its operations running year-round.

This year’s contest marks our third year together, and Dale Jr. is just as thrilled as we are, saying: “Our fans are what make NASCAR so great, so I’m excited to once again partner with America’s Power for this opportunity. America’s Power and JR Motorsports have had a great run so far, largely due to our shared commitment to protect affordable, reliable coal-based electricity for consumers and businesses across the U.S.”

Start your engines and sign up today to meet Dale Jr.! Learn more and enter at www.AmericasPower.org/Meet-Dale.

 


EPA’s Clean Power Plan Faces Tough Criticism at House Energy & Commerce Hearing

Posted by Laura Sheehan at 1:58 pm, April 16, 2015

Tuesday, April 14, brought with it a deluge of criticism of the Environmental Protection Agency’s Clean Power Plan during a House Energy and Commerce Energy and Power Subcommittee hearing. The hearing focused on Chairman Ed Whitfield’s draft bill, the Ratepayer Protection Act, which seeks to protect consumers from increased electricity rates and decreased grid reliability associated with the CPP.

The committee heard from Janet McCabe, Acting Assistant Administrator of EPA’s Office of Air and Radiation, and energy experts like Eugene Trisko, an economist and attorney. Several members of the committee expressed strong opposition to the proposal, as did numerous witnesses:

Congressman Ed Whitfield (KY-1): The Clean Power Plan “forces states to adopt policies that will raise energy costs.”

Congressman Fred Upton (MI-6): “America’s manufacturing industry could not survive without electricity rates that allow us to be globally competitive.”  

Congressman Joe Barton (TX-6): “There is no health benefit to this rule… It’s the administration deciding politically correct social policy.”

 Economist Eugene Trisko: “Lower income families are more vulnerable to energy costs because electricity represents a larger portion of their budget, which in turn reduces the amount of income that can be spent on food, housing, health care and other necessities.”

 Kevin Sunday, the Pennsylvania Chamber of Business and Industry: “EPA’s proposal threatens Pennsylvania’s biggest competitive advantage, as it will drastically change the way Pennsylvania produces and uses energy. This change is likely to come with a significant economic impact to the business community, as well as threaten reliability across the grid.”

 Lisa D. Johnson, Seminole Electric Cooperative, Inc.: “The truth is that Florida cannot comply with EPA’s proposal using its existing utility investments, and the overall utility cost impacts would likely total in the billions – and perhaps tens of billions – of dollars.”  

While Ms. McCabe tried to argue that EPA’s analysis showed household electricity bills would fall in some cases because people will buy less electricity under energy efficiency measures, it convinced few attendees. Congressman David McKinley (WV-1) was particularly unimpressed with her arguments, responding to Ms. McCabe with two simple words: “Unbelievable. Delusional.”

Congressman McKinley is on point. It’s delusional to think this plan, which has been cited as the most expensive environmental regulation ever imposed on the electric power sector, will be affordable for consumers, families and businesses. Mr. Trisko recently published papers that delve deeper into the troubling trend of declining incomes and rising energy prices in states across the country – a trend that will only be exacerbated by EPA’s costly and overreaching CPP.

 


Threat of EPA Regulations a Rallying Cry for Prospective Candidates

Posted by America's Power at 4:30 pm, April 11, 2015

This article by Raymond Starks originally appeared in InsideSources on April 9, 2015.

At an event Thursday at The World Food Prize in Des Moines, Iowa, likely presidential contenders gathered to express their concerns with Environmental Protection Agency regulations they said were holding back America’s economy. Hosted by InsideSources and sponsored by America’s Power, the event introduced policy-minded voters to former Texas Governor Rick Perry, Louisiana Governor Bobby Jindal and former Pennsylvania Senator Rick Santorum, all Republicans. Likely presidential candidates from both parties were invited to the event.

Congressman David Young (R-IA) welcomed the three likely presidential candidates and called for an “all of the above approach” to energy policy. He took note of Iowa’s growth in wind and biofuel power, but he pointed out a majority of Iowa’s power still comes from coal, a top target of costly environmental regulations.

David Young

(Conrad Schmidt/AP Images)

Each of the candidates—Perry, Jindal, and Santorum—hails from a top five energy producing state, and all eschewed similar views concerned with overreach of the Environmental Protection Agency on businesses and consumers.

Remarks from each candidate focused attention on the EPA’s Clean Power Plan that seeks to reduce CO2 emissions through heat rate improvements on coal plants, increased utilization of natural gas, an increase in renewables and nuclear energy, and increases in end-use efficiency. The EPA’s preferred implementation of the plan proposes a 30% reduction in CO2power plant emissions by 2030. As the United States produces 40% of its electricity from coal, the plan would have a significant impact on the American economy. It’s expected that 43 states would see double digit electricity rate increases, and costs for power plants and consumers would rise substantially.

Former Texas Governor Rick Perry frequently touted his energy policy stances during his 2012 bid for the Republican nomination, and he continues to do so as he looks ahead to the 2016 race. In 2012, the now-former governor focused prominently on the idea of energy independence, believing the United States should produce and consume its own energy rather than relying on foreign countries. Perry believes that energy policy is directly related to national security saying, “We need to talk plainly about the stakes… Energy is a weapon in the hands of an aggressor. America needs to have the largest arsenal.”  Not only focusing on his accomplishments as Governor of Texas, Perry praised the progress made by both Pennsylvania and Louisiana. During his tenure as Governor of Texas, Perry expanded the state’s energy production from fossil fuels and renewable energy. The state now produces 29% of all United States natural gas and also leads the nation in the production of oil with a refinery capacity of 5.1 million barrels per day. The Lone Star State produces 34% of its energy from coal, and under the proposed EPA regulations, the state would face an average increase in energy prices of 10%.

Rick Perry

(Conrad Schmidt/AP Images)

The longest serving governor in the state’s history, Perry’s tenure was also marked by a long period of job growth where the state created one third of the nation’s jobs, many coming from the energy industry. The former Texas Governor criticized the president for his energy policy while also focusing on the accomplishments of entrepreneurship and the economy of Texas, saying, “Today America leads the world in natural gas production… the energy rush has once again come to America and my home state is the epicenter of that.” Also during Perry’s tenure as Texas Governor, the state expanded its wind production, producing the largest amount of wind energy in the nation.

Louisiana Governor Bobby Jindal has also made energy a focus of his prospective 2016 Presidential campaign, previously writing for InsideSources on delivering affordable energy to American families and businesses. Jindal criticized the EPA’s Clean Power Plan, which would raise electricity prices an average of 16% over the period of 2020-2029. The EPA regulation, which he believes should be repealed, has a significant impact on the state that produces 21% of its electricity from coal. The state of Louisiana is the second largest refiner of crude oil only behind the neighboring state of Texas.

In his second term as Louisiana Governor, Jindal has been a forceful critic of President Obama, especially on energy issues. The Louisiana Governor focused much of his speech on highlighting what he views as federal overreach from the Obama administration saying “We are in the middle of an energy revolution that will restore our economy… Just the energy revolution alone can increase the median income by 7%.” Jindal has consistently criticized the President for his refusal to sign a bill allowing for the construction of the Keystone XL Pipeline that was vetoed earlier this year. Jindal noted the significant energy reserves and technology advantages the United States has that he would seek to expand. “We have been blessed with an abundance of energy, not just recourses but technology here at home.” Jindal, like Perry, touted energy independence as a foreign policy objective.

Bobby Jindal

(Conrad Schmidt/AP Images)

Former Pennsylvania Senator Rick Santorum, the 2012 winner of the Iowa Republican Caucuses, appears on track to make energy a focus of a likely 2016 campaign just as he did in 2012. Santorum advocated his support for the Renewable Fuels Standard that is important to Iowa’s economy. Touting his heritage as the grandson of a coal miner, Santorum has frequently noted the importance of coal to his home state, as well as to Iowa and American energy production as a whole. After leaving the United States Senate, Santorum served as a consultant to an energy company. The former Senator told Iowans there is a “war on coal” in the United States waged by the EPA. Santorum focused his remarks on the price of energy and its effects on the working and middle class. “If you’re an average American…you spend 40% of your disposable income on energy… Let’s give small town America a chance.” His home state is the nation’s fourth largest coal producer that provides for 40% of all energy produced in the state, although it has become a large user and producer of natural gas. Nuclear power is also of unique importance as the resource provides 35% of the state’s power.

Rick Santorum

(Conrad Schmidt/AP Images)

Energy will be a 2016 issue that will allow candidates like Santorum, Jindal and Perry to display their breadth of knowledge and experience. The state of Iowa, home of the first-in-the-nation caucus, would be required by EPA policy to cut its emissions by 16% relative to the 2012 rate. The state would also see an increase in the average energy price by 15%. The Hawkeye State relies upon coal for 59% of its electricity; however, it is one of the foremost wind energy producing states with 25% of all electricity being produced by wind turbines. Through an appeal to the pocketbooks of Iowans, these three candidates look to distinguish themselves in a crowded field.

 


The Morning Consult: Legal and Cost Concerns Mounting Against EPA Regulations

Posted by Laura Sheehan at 10:12 am, April 07, 2015

This column originally appeared in The Morning Consult on April 1, 2015.

Criticism around the Environmental Protection Agency’s Clean Power Plan has grown over the last month. Much of it has focused on the fact that EPA’s plan stretches far beyond the limits of sound legal and economic policy.

American Coalition for Clean Coal Electricity president and CEO Mike Duncan described in a March 11 op-ed in the Washington Examiner how EPA’s proposed rule completely disregards the principles of federalism that define our Constitution. In what many agree is federal overreach, President Obama has granted EPA the authority to implement standards each state must meet to reduce their greenhouse gas emissions. While EPA claims that it is within its legal bounds under Section 111 of the Clean Air Act to do so, a number of experts have been quick to disprove this argument.

Morning Consult Blog_EPA_FINAL_04.07.15

Speaking at a House Committee on Energy and Commerce Subcommittee on Energy and Power hearing last month, Lawrence H. Tribe, a professor at Harvard Law School and former mentor to President Obama, stated, “The obscure section of the Clean Air Act that EPA invokes to support its breathtaking exercise of power in fact authorizes only regulating individual plants and, far from giving EPA the green light it claims, actually forbids what it seeks to do.”

Professor Tribe—who taught the nation’s first environmental law class—went on to compare the Obama Administration’s proposed carbon regulations to “burning the Constitution.” Allison Wood, another hearing witness and environmental attorney with Hunton and Williams, LLP, sealed the argument by stating that EPA’s proposal “suffers from numerous legal deficiencies, including whether EPA even has the authority to issue it.”

In fact, since the rule was proposed in June 2014, officials in 29 states ranging from attorneys general to governors and state legislators have concluded that EPA does not have the legal authority to regulate carbon emissions from coal-fired power units.

Fanning the flames, EPA’s proposed rule also poses grave economic consequences that could harm our nation’s economy. Monthly utility costs under the rule would skyrocket, leaving our poorest and most vulnerable communities facing exorbitant electricity rates. According to an analysis conducted last October, the compliance cost of EPA’s proposal could total more than $366 billion and cause double-digit utility rate increases for consumers in 43 states.

It’s hard to buy what EPA is selling when it comes to the agency’s Clean Power Plan. The rule is on perilous legal ground and if implemented will raise the price tag on consumers and plunge our economy back into a recession.

Americans must continue demanding the facts and force this administration to stop its “act now, think later” mentality. Only then will our nation stand a chance of implementing a true all-of-the-above energy policy that will provide Americans the affordable, reliable energy needed for success and future economic growth.

 


Spotlight on States: Coal Fuels Iowa

Posted by Julia Treanor at 3:05 pm, April 06, 2015

Iowa garners substantial political attention as the presidential election season’s first caucus state. The Hawkeye State, however, leads our nation in much more than caucuses. Iowa is also a leader in agriculture and manufacturing, and a key component fueling this success is coal-based electricity, which provides 59 percent of Iowa’s power.

Low-cost electricity from coal helps Iowa manufacturers employ 14 percent of the state’s workforce, ranking third in the nation for manufacturing employment. Iowa is also recognized as a top-three state for agricultural production, with farmers relying on coal-based electricity to power their equipment affordably and reliably.

Des Moines Skyline

Iowa has a lot to lose under the Environmental Protection Agency’s Clean Power Plan, especially when it comes to the wide-ranging effects the plan will have on the state’s local industries. America’s Power will be in Des Moines on April 9 to discuss the potential economic impacts of EPA’s proposal and how this will shape the energy debate in the 2016 elections.

Explore our site to learn how EPA regulations will affect Iowa or your home state, learn more about our event in Iowa and participate in our upcoming energy conversation by using the hashtag #RoadTo2016.