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Cutting coal will push up West Virginia’s electric bills

World Coal,

A recent study has shown that the shift away from coal is likely to increase West Virginia’s electric bills by approximately 40% by 2020.

According to the study, the EPA’s assault on coal and coal-fired power plants, and the resulting shift to using more natural gas, will cost the average family an additional US$750 to US$850 per year for energy use in 2020 compared to what they paid in 2012.

EPA carbon rules

The Energy Venture Analysis Inc. study, ‘Energy Market Impacts of Recent Federal Regulations on the Electric Power Sector’, factors in the EPA’s proposed carbon rule and other regulations, along with the expected doubling in price of wholesale natural gas in coming years.

The yearly energy cost for the average Ohioan would increase from US$2022 in 2012 to US$2874 in 2020, a 42% increase. For West Virginians, the yearly energy cost would go from US$1960 in 2012 to US$2710 in 2020, a 38% increase.

Natural gas prices

Meanwhile, nationwide, consumers and businesses would see the cost of electricity and natural gas increase by nearly US$300 billion in 2020 compared with 2012. The industrial sector will be hard hit with total electricity and natural gas cost for the sector approaching US$200 billion in 2020, almost double the cost from 2012. This would stifle industrial growth and lead to higher prices for goods produced using electricity.

Overall, the study projects a US$177 billion increase in electricity costs and a US$107 billion increase in natural gas costs in 2020 compared with 2012, when the cumulative effects of EPA regulations and energy market impacts are analysed.

Impact on economy

“These costs are simply not bearable by West Virginia families and businesses, that have already seen the loss of tens of thousands of jobs and literally hundreds of millions of dollars to the state’s economy,” said Chris Hamilton, Senior VP of the West Virginia Coal Association.

“We have warned about this ‘perfect storm’ for the past six years. Now the storm is no longer out there over the horizon. It is hitting us now. And it isn’t just hitting us. This storm will impact the entire country and the result will be more more lasting and more catastrophic than any hurricane.”

‘Flawed assumptions’

Seth Schwartz, President of Energy Ventures Analysis, said the analysis is the first to fully examine the combined economic impacts of the EPA’s proposed and finalised regulations on the electric power industry, including the MACT standards. Schwartz said the regulations and the EPA’s assertions that states could meet their requirements are based on flawed assumptions.

Schwartz concluded: “For example, existing coal-fuelled generating facilities are already operating at very efficient levels and, collectively, will not be able to achieve an additional 6% heat rate improvement.”

Adapted from press release by Katie Woodward

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