Polar Vortex 2015 – Close to the Edge (Again!)
Last winter was one of the harshest, hitting millions of Americans with spikes in their winter utility bills. Unfortunately, here we are, one year later, facing yet another polar vortex. Meteorologists predict some of the coldest blasts of frigid temperatures over the next several days, which has energy experts worried about the impact on consumers’ utility bills, as well as on the reliability of the electric grid we all depend on.
As Polar Vortex 2015 moves across the country, consumers could face spikes in electricity bills, with seniors on fixed incomes and lower income Americans hit the hardest. According to a recent survey, high energy prices already have forced more than 40 percent of low-income seniors to go without needed medical or dental care, and even to skip meals or shut off the heat on cold days.
It may seem odd to be predicting another energy price spike since oil, natural gas and coal prices have all fallen recently. But it’s not the market that will be driving prices higher. It’s politics.
The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency has announced a plan to cut carbon dioxide emissions from America’s power plants by 30 percent by 2030. The U.S. relies on coal for 40 percent of our electricity because it is a reliable and affordable energy source that keeps our electricity prices low and predictable. Already, previous EPA regulations are forcing the closure of many of the coal-fired power plants that utilities have relied on to meet the surge in demand during cold winter months. EPA’s costly power plan will shut down another sizable segment of that low-cost electricity if the plan goes forward as proposed.
Despite this plan’s costly impact, EPA cannot claim that the rule will make any material difference in global temperatures. Independent analyses show that at best, the plan will reduce global concentrations of carbon dioxide by less than 1 percent and global temperatures by less than one hundredth of a degree.
A growing number of experts, including overseers of the nation’s electricity grid, regional power transmission authorities, power plant operators and energy economists, are all warning that the EPA’s carbon emissions rule will lead to a less diverse supply of electricity, weaker grid reliability and higher energy bills for all Americans.
The Southwest Power Pool, grid operator for nine Midwestern states, warns that EPA’s plan will result in cascading outages and voltage collapse in six of the eight states where it operates the electric grid. The Midcontinent Independent System Operator forecasts that the power reserves needed for 15 Midwestern states will fall below safe margins by 2016, and slip further after that. More and more states are concluding that the EPA’s costly power plan will not work and are urging their elected officials not to agree to bad public policies that could do more harm than help. To get involved and take action, visit www.CountonCoal.org. Tell your governor to “Just Say No” to EPA’s costly power plan.
The National Mining Association (NMA) is the voice of the American mining industry in Washington, D.C. Membership includes more than 325 corporations involved in all aspects of coal and solid minerals production including coal, metal and industrial mineral producers, mineral processors, equipment manufacturers, state mining associations, bulk transporters, engineering firms, consultants, financial institutions and other companies that supply goods and services to the mining industry.
- On February 20, 2015