Hate Gas Prices? Electricity’s Next

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The media have been claiming "http://www.massheadstart.org "> for years. And in 2011, their assertion was finally accurate.

Last year’s average gasoline price surpassed "http://www1.eere.energy.gov/vehiclesandfuels/facts/2005/fcvt_fotw364.html">the record set, in real dollars, in 1981. And at "http://news.consumerreports.org/cars/2012/03/average-gas-prices-march-12-2012.html">$3.83 per gallon today, the cost of getting around has gotten grislier. (Sticklers will insist that the peak remains to be reached, given income growth and improvement in fuel economy, but thatÂ’s small comfort to motorists facing fill-ups north of 50 bucks.)

Unfortunately, consumers may soon confront another energy atrocity. If dunderheaded policies implemented at the state and federal levels are allowed to continue, electricity will likely mirror petroleum-based fuelsÂ’ extraordinary upsurge.

First a little history. In the 1960s, ‘70s and first half of the ‘80s, homeowners’ inflation-adjusted power bills seesawed — falling by 35 percent during the early portion of the period, then reversing course in the Nixon/Ford/Carter years. It was chaotic era, with price fluctuations driven by multiple factors, including pollution regulations, federal market-meddling, OPEC chicanery and the arrival of nuclear reactors.

In the mid-‘80s, though, the average, real cost of a residential kilowatt-hour began a glorious, 15-year fall:

1985: 15.96¢

1990: 13.93¢

1995: 12.81¢

2000: 11.12¢

Rates pulled an about-face in the new century. In 2010, homeowners paid 12.30¢ per kilowatt-hour, up from 11.12¢ in 2000. At 9.3 percent, it wasn’t much of an added burden. But greater "http://sbcselpa.org/media//#cheap_valium">cheap valium are almost certainly on the way.

One of the key causes of pricey electricity, according to "http://www.manhattan-institute.org/html/eper_10.htm">a February analysis by energy journalist Robert Bryce, is “renewables” requirements. Twenty-nine states mandate that utilities generate — or purchase — politically correct power. California’s dictate is the worst, at 33 percent by 2020. But many large states aren’t far behind, including New York (29 percent by 2015), Ohio (25 percent by 2025), Texas (5,880 megawatts by 2015) and Pennsylvania (18 percent by 2021).

Ditching coal, nuclear and natural gas for solar, wind and biomass is no bargain. A renewable portfolio standard (RPS), Bryce found, is correlated with rising rates. He conducted an apples-to-apples survey of states that are reliant on coal. Bryce found that in “2001, the average price of residential electricity in the RPS states was 10.9 percent higher than the average price in the non-RPS states. By 2010, that differential had more than tripled, to 37.6 percent.”

And with so many RPS goals far from attained, the pain has only just begun. Bryce cited estimates by the Electric Power Research Institute: “In 2015, generating a megawatt-hour of electricity with natural gas will cost between $49 and $79. That same quantity of energy produced from onshore wind will cost between $75 and $138, while generating it with solar photovoltaic will cost at least $242 and as much as $455.”

Homeowners are free to flee states with RPS mandates. But stay in the U.S., and they’ll be subject to "http://www.alec.org/docs/EPA-TRAIN-WRECK-2011-Final-Full-printres.pdf">what the American Legislative Exchange Council called “one of the most breathtaking and hostile regulatory assaults on energy affordability and electric reliability in our nation’s history.”

Barack Obama’s Environmental Protection Agency, to put it bluntly, is out of control. It’s concocted a raft of assaults that will dramatically boost the price of juice. The EPA’s crusade against “greenhouse gases,” if not stopped by Congress and/or the federal courts, is sure to bite — in 2010, 96 of the 100 largest climate-change “polluters” were power plants.

The EPA’s "http://www.forbes.com/sites/larrybell/2012/02/02/paul-krugmans-toxic-shock-syndrome-mercury-madness/">“Mercury and Air Toxics Standards” rule, according to the Committee on Energy and Commerce of the U.S. House of Representatives, “has been characterized as the most expensive rule ever imposed by the agency on the power sector.” Along with the “Cross State Air Pollution” rule, another agency overreach, it’s shuttering plants from Oregon to Massachusetts.

The "http://mushing.com/site/">Institute for Energy R "http://mushing.com/site/">esearch has documented the impending withdrawal of an alarming 33 gigawatts of generating capacity “as a result of EPA’s regulations.” (Rules that were promulgated, it’s worth noting, despite "http://american.com/archive/2010/september/two-cheers-for-the-clean-air-act">remarkable gains in air quality, with across-the-board drops in the “big six” pollutants during the last few decades.) In addition, "http://www.hartfordbusiness.com/news23000.html">new water-intake mandates loom for electricity producers — many could be forced to construct cooling towers with price tags in the hundreds of millions of dollars.

"http://gp.org/site//#_online">Op-ed_MuskaThere was a time when the machinations of eco-Luddite activists, bureaucrats and politicians could be ignored. But as the real-world consequences of their economically calamitous schemes become clearer, attention must be paid.

The goal of historically costly gasoline has been accomplished. The next item on radical environmentalistsÂ’ to-do list? Raising power bills. A lot.

DonÂ’t say you werenÂ’t warned.

D. Dowd Muska ( "http://www.dowdmuska.com/">dowdmuska.com) of Broad Brook writes about government, economics and technology. Follow him on Twitter "http://grenoble-airport.com/oo/buyxanaxonline/">@dowdmuska.

"http://www.ninecakes.com/media/buyonline//#_online"> online.


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