Technology – Not Caps – is the Answer for Clean, Affordable Energy
Via The Hill:
There is much talk about where America should get its power following the administration’s stunning attempt to rewrite the playbook for our U.S. energy supply. The new carbon plan favors a switch to the most expensive forms of energy. It puts at risk the best, most reliable power system in the world. And it quite literally throws caution to the wind for political convenience with no notable benefit under climate theory.
Why else would the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) admit that the carbon benefits associated with its plan are so insignificant that is has never even bothered to measure them?
The administration’s carbon rule is fundamentally flawed on legal, policy and practical grounds. It’s time to take a step back to protect access to low-cost electricity and counter actions that would raise power costs and damage reliability.
America’s energy policy should not be guided by political fancy but by the dire need for affordable energy for families and businesses. Consider that as many as 100 million Americans – nearly one-third of the population – qualify for energy assistance. A record 93 million Americans are out of the labor force, and 45 million Americans live in poverty.
Yet the administration’s plan forces utilities to increase use of volatile natural gas and pricey renewables, which several earlier studies show will continue to drive up electricity rates to new records. This comes at a time when the majority of Americans believe the plan will increase energy costs and need relief from “pain at the plug.” Last year was the most expensive year ever for electricity in the United States, and electricity rates have increased at twice the pace of household incomes since 2000.
The EPA models its carbon proposal after California, a state where high renewable mandates and energy taxes have created some of the nation’s most expensive power.
Californians pay electricity costs that are 68 percent higher than my home state of Missouri where over 80 percent of our electricity comes from coal.
California’s approach is a striking example of energy policy that hurts people and economies. And other regions that have embraced similar practices suffer the same result. Australia elected a new government with a mandate to repeal the carbon tax, which reportedly cost the economy a whopping $20 million a day.
Europe embraced the world’s first cap and trade system. Now Spain’s residential power prices are two-and-a-half times higher than the United States, and Germany’s residential power prices are three times higher. In Ontario, power is like a luxury good. High renewable standards have pushed the average monthly residential bill to the highest in North America.
These are lessons, not models for U.S. energy policy.
Beyond cost issues, the carbon rule is likely to create power shortages across the nation in the Great Plains, the Midwest, the Northeast and Texas, according to the North American Electric Reliability Corp. The cuts needed to comply are simply not feasible for many states.
Within this framework, who is looking out for families and businesses? Is this really the best we can do?
Coal provides a steady, reliable source of U.S. electricity with a cost advantage that is free from the volatility seen historically with natural gas or the high costs associated with renewables that offer intermittent power and require baseload backup from fossil fuels.
In fact, the states that use the most renewables have seen electricity rates grow nearly twice as fast as the rest of the nation. And after 60-plus years of propping up renewables with over $85 billion in subsidies, wind and solar only supply about 5 percent of U.S. electricity.
Coal fuels some of the lowest-cost electricity in the United States, provides the backbone for reliable power and would continue to fuel a significant share of electricity even under the EPA plan. Globally, coal is the world’s fastest-growing fuel this decade with one 500 megawatt coal-fueled power plant coming on line approximately every three days.
Today air quality in the United States is among the best in the world, thanks to American innovation and wise deployment of state-of-the-art technology. Continuing to advance a technology path – not artificial caps – is the far better approach to address carbon concerns over time.
There is a common sense reason why members of Congress and a majority of states have expressed opposition to the rule… why governors are saying no… and why attorneys general… business associations… citizen groups… and hardworking Americans are pushing back against the rule.
We counter the EPA’s plan with a more practical vision to protect access to low-cost electricity. The path to clean, affordable energy has four elements:
1) Insisting on low-cost electricity, which means putting people first by putting energy first;
2) Investing in efficiency improvements at existing coal plants;
3) Deploying high-efficiency low emissions supercritical coal plants; and
4) Supporting greater research and development to commercialize next-generation coal technologies including carbon capture, utilization and storage.
Advancing social and economic progress through affordable energy should be our first order priority. Let’s put in place a technology path for long-term improvement in carbon emissions that will enable us to use more energy more cleanly while keeping electricity available and affordable.
Boyce is executive chairman of Peabody Energy and chairman of the International Energy Agency’s Coal Industry Advisory Board. Peabody Energy is the world’s largest private-sector coal company. For more information, please visit AdvancedEnergyforLife.com<http://AdvancedEnergyforLife.com>.
See the article here.
- On September 25, 2015