Archive for August, 2012

Fixed Income

In this fragile economy, many Americans are on tight budgets. People are still working on trying to balance their finances to keep their families on track and make ends meet. One area where Americans can’t afford to spend more is on energy. In 2011, more than half of U.S. households devoted more than 20 percent of their family budget on energy costs.

A few weeks ago, we spoke with the people of Red Springs, North Carolina. In North Carolina, the 2.1 million households earning less than $50,000 annually spend 23 percent of their income on energy. To the people of Red Springs, any increase in electricity prices would make a huge difference to their already tight family budgets.

With EPA regulations coming rapidly down the pipe, thousands of American families are risk for rising electricity prices. Hasty regulations will slow the recovery of our economy, and put thousands of jobs at risk. For many Americans, this is simply something we can’t afford.

Share the people of Red Spring’s story with your friends and family on Facebook and Twitter.

Coal and the Republican National Convention

I’m in Tampa for the Republican National Convention this week, and I’ve been excited to see that coal is on people’s minds. The acknowledged truth on the ground here is clear: coal is under attack. Delegates feel this administration has been acting against coal by doing nothing to stop sweeping regulations that threaten the entire coal-based electricity industry.

Recently, I spoke about it on former Gov. Mike Huckabee’s radio program. And Congressional candidate Andy Barr summed it up when he talked about the plight of the Kentucky coal industry while speaking at the convention:

Beyond the rolling hills of the Bluegrass, within the depths of steep mountainsides, Kentuckians built a coal industry that powers America… Rarely in history has one industry been so ruthlessly attacked with so little regard for the people it hurts.

We’ll be heading to Charlotte later this week, where Democrats who know about our issues will work to add some sense to the EPA’s position against coal. Regardless of party, in the 69 days leading up to the election, securing our energy future, and keeping costs low for families and small businesses, should be an issue on everyone’s minds.

America’s Power in Tampa

There is no way of knowing what our legislature will look like next year. The shifting landscape after an election, with local, state and national leaders potentially changing, means we need to ensure that all candidates are focused on ensuring the best possible energy mix for the United States.

That’s why we’re at the RNC this week meeting and educating thousands of party members looking to find out about the importance of a homegrown American energy portfolio.

That mix—an “all of the above” policy—must include coal.  We need to be utilizing our country’s most abundant natural resource rather than regulating it into oblivion.

The EPA has undertaken regulations that are making it difficult for America’s most abundant, affordable fuel to be used in our own country. Because of those EPA regulations, the reliable baseload power of coal-based electricity in this country could be threatened, even in the near-term.

This week, we’ll be at the RNC and DNC conventions to spread the word: The EPA needs to go back to the drawing board. Now is the time for this country to be utilizing its abundance of coal. If you want to stay in the know about convention-specific coverage, sign up to receive updates from America’s Power.

Prairie State Energy Campus Innovates, Implements CCT

America is home to centuries of coal—the U.S. has more coal reserves than any other country in the world.  Coal is one of America’s strongest homegrown energy sources, and has a long history in the United States. And, according to new EIA data, coal has a prominent place in America’s energy future.

Reasons like these are why we need to continue to capitalize on American innovation to enhance clean coal technology. A few months ago, I was able to tour the Prairie State Energy Campus. The campus, a new clean coal plant in Illinois, uses cutting-edge technology to deliver an energy solution that provides a clean environment, abundant low-cost electricity and jobs to the community.

The campus is home to both a coal mine and clean coal plant, and will ultimately generate 1600 MWs of power with 95 percent of the output dedicated to eight Midwestern-based public power utilities.

Prairie State is a win-win: it provides jobs, uses innovation and technology to help reduce the impact on the environment, and provides low-cost electricity to consumers.

Learn more about the Prairie State Energy Campus in this short video produced by Prairie State.

Short-Sighted Regulations, Far-Reaching Results

EPA regulations are going to raise your family’s electricity bills, and hurt the bottom-line of countless small businesses. And the Government Accountability Office recently released a report finding four different regulations won’t just hurt your finances, they can hamper America in another way: threatening the stability of the electrical grid.

Grid reliability is imperative for any developed nation. Along with our transportation systems, it’s the backbone of commerce.  According to the prominent experts at ICF Consulting, the 2003 New York City blackout cost the nation between $6.8 and $10 billion dollars.

And yet EPA regulations are so hastily enacted, they can actually harm the reliability of the grid. The Washington Examiner recently observed why:

The EPA’s timeline for complying with the new rules could cause some plants to close that could have been retro-fitted had the owners had more time to do so… EPA believes that “a moderately-paced” effort to retrofit the coal plants will suffice, but coal industry representatives say it “might be challenging to complete retrofits or retirements by the compliance deadline for MATS, in some cases.” The main difficulty, they warned, would be the regulatory approvals that must be received in order to carry out the retrofits.

And I agree, as I recently wrote in the National Journal:

The EPA’s approach over the past few years has been short-sighted and dangerous… for the past few years, this EPA has sought to remove coal from our nation’s energy mix. Since 2008, the EPA has released an onslaught of regulations on the coal industry … that will result in increased energy prices, lost jobs and less reliable electricity for millions of American families and businesses.

The government’s own investigator has found this to be true. And the U.S. Court of Appeals just recently highlighted this by telling the EPA that their rule wasn’t just poorly conceived, it overstepped their regulatory boundaries. It’s time for the EPA to start evaluating the wisdom of their policies, and exercise restraint—before the unintended consequences becomes terrible realities.

The EPA’s Assault on Your Pocketbook

Coal is one of the most reliable, affordable sources of electricity. According to the Energy Information Administration, coal will continue to dominate electricity generation for years, accounting for roughly 38 percent of the total electricity in the U.S. by 2035. That means more electricity will come from coal in the future than today. The Wall Street Journal and the Institute for Energy Research put some numbers together and found that per megawatt hour of energy produced, coal isn’t just cheaper for consumers, it’s cheaper for all taxpayers.

From the Wall Street Journal:

So for every tax dollar that goes to coal, oil and natural gas, wind gets $88 and solar $1,212. After all the hype and dollars, in 2010 wind and solar combined for 2.3 percent of electric generation—2.3 percent for wind and 0 percent and a rounding error for solar. Renewables contributed 10.3 percent overall, though 6.2 percent is hydro. Some “investment.”

Take a look at that number in a different way:

[T]he Congressional Research Service did its own analysis of tax incentives last year. It found that in 2009 fossil fuels accounted for 78 percent of U.S. energy production but received only 12.6 percent of tax incentives. Renewables accounted for 11 percent of energy production but received 77 percent of the tax subsidies—and that understates the figure because it leaves out direct spending. By the way, these subsidy comparisons don’t consider that the coal, oil, and natural gas industries paid more than $10 billion of taxes in 2009. Wind and solar are net drains on the Treasury.

The EPA’s war on coal is also a war on your pocketbook. While unelected bureaucrats in Washington are trying to implement poorly planned regulations that will cause electricity rates to skyrocket, the administration’s energy plan favors renewables that simply don’t produce essential baseload power needed to power our economy. It’s numbers like these that show why the war on coal is really a war on American jobs and businesses, on families, the economies of many states, and your bottom line.

Court Decision Underscores EPA’s Regulatory Overreach

WASHINGTON – Today, the U.S. Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia threw out the EPA’s “Cross-State Air Pollution Rule,” finding that the EPA exceeded its statutory authority with the rule.  In response to the ruling, ACCCE’s Senior Vice President for Communication Evan Tracey released the following statement:

“The full implications of this decision must be analyzed, but at first glance this appears to be very good news for Americans who depend on the reliable and affordable electricity generated by coal.

“More than a dozen states brought this case forward, and ACCCE commends them for the hard work and commitment they have shown in standing up for balanced environmental policies.  The Cross-State Air Pollution Rule would have led to higher energy prices, job losses and premature coal plant retirements.

“Through existing law — the EPA’s Clean Air Interstate Rule — and current and future investments in clean coal technology, air quality will continue to improve. Hopefully, today’s decision will cause the EPA to reevaluate their overzealous approach, and pursue more balanced environmental and energy policies.”

Infographic: Electricity Powers Our Lives

Electricity is essential to everyday life in America, especially at home. But have you ever wondered just how much electricity you’re using during your daily routine?

This infographic from Keeping Electricity Affordable (KEA) adds some insight to just how much electricity it takes to power some of our daily activities.

"Keep Electricity Affordable

As KEA writes in its blog:

We all recognize and appreciate the value of electricity when the power goes out or a crisis hits, but day in and day out most of us take for granted just how thoroughly this incredible, invisible resource influences our lives…

…As our quality of life depends increasingly on electricity, our family budgets become more sensitive to changes in electricity rates. Utilities set those rates based on their costs of doing business – costs that shouldn’t be driven unnecessarily upward by unreasonable, ineffective and ill-conceived government regulations.

Stay up-to-date with our friends at Keeping Electricity Affordable by finding them on Facebook and Twitter