WASHINGTON, DC – Perhaps one reason President Obama faced stiff opposition in the West Virginia and Kentucky Democratic primaries is because of his war effort – his war on coal. And unfortunately to many, this is one effort in which he is showing great success.
The U.S. Energy Information Administration reported a dramatic drop last week in power sector coal consumption for the first quarter of 2012. Coal-fired power plants now generate only 36 percent of U.S. electricity. Considering that figure stood at almost 45 percent just a year ago, the drop in coal-fired power is shocking to say the least.
PJM Interconnection, the company that operates the electric grid for thirteen states, say the drop is due to an unprecedented increase in stifling regulations. PJM operates the electric grid in Delaware, Illinois, Indiana, Kentucky, Maryland, Michigan, New Jersey, North Carolina, Ohio, Pennsylvania, Tennessee, Virginia, West Virginia, and the District of Columbia.
These states are seeing the first real market prices that take Obama’s most recent anti-coal regulations into account. And it is likely many are now recalling his 2008 campaign promise to make electricity prices “necessarily skyrocket.”
The market-clearing price for new 2015 capacity – almost all natural gas – was $136 per megawatt. That’s eight times higher than the price for 2012, which was just $16 per megawatt. In the mid-Atlantic area covering New Jersey, Delaware, Pennsylvania, and D.C., the new price is $167 per megawatt. So why are priced escalating at such an alarming rate? Andy Ott from PJM explains: “Capacity prices were higher than last year’s because of retirements of existing coal-fired generation resulting largely from environmental regulations which go into effect in 2015.”
Northern Ohio is suffering from more forced coal-plant retirements than the rest of the region, hence the even higher price. For the northern Ohio territory served by FirstEnergy, the price of electricity will jump to an appalling $357 per megawatt.
These are not computer models or projections or estimates. These prices are what electric distributors have agreed to pay for new capacity. And, as always happens, those increased will passed on to businesses and anyone who has to pay for electricity.
House Energy and Power Subcommittee Chairman Ed Whitfield (R-Ky.) put it this way: “The PJM auction forecasts a dim future where Americans will be paying more to keep the lights on. We are seeing more and more coal plants fall victim to EPA’s destructive regulatory agenda, and as a result, we are seeing more job losses and higher electricity prices.”
The only thing that can stop that will halt these massive price hikes a concerted and unified effort to Obama’s destructive regulatory agenda. The Senate has a critical chance to do just that when it votes on stopping Obama’s most expensive anti-coal regulation sometime in the next couple of weeks.
The Inhofe Resolution, S.J. Res. 37, offers legislators opportunity to overturn the Utility MACT rule, which the EPA itself has admitted is its most expensive rule ever. This vote is protected from filibuster, and it will take just fifty-one votes to pass. There is no doubt passage would relay a clear message to the end the war on coal.
Even if the resolution is passed and the president vetoes it, he will be forced to take full political responsibility for the impending jump in electricity prices.
©2012 Off the Grid News