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Polar vortex power problems 2015

World Coal,

Last winter was one of the harshest, hitting millions of Americans with spikes in winter utility bills. Unfortunately, the same situation has arisen again this year, and the US is facing 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 electricity grid.

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 have already forced more than 40% of low income seniors to go without needed medical or dental care, or even skip meals or cut 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 The National Mining Association (NMA) claims that politics is to blame.

The US Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) has announced a plan to cut carbon dioxide emissions from America’s power plants by 30% by 2030. The US relies on coal for 40% of electricity because it is a reliable and affordable energy source that keeps electricity prices low and predictable. Already, previous EPA regulations are forcing the closure of many 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 sizeable segment of that low-cost electricity if the plan goes forward as proposed.

Despite this plan’s costly impact, EPA cannot claim that the rill will make any material difference to global temperatures, NMA believes. Independent analyses show that at best, the plan will reduce global concentrations of carbon dioxide by less than 1% 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 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 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 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. NMA urges citizens to tell their governor ‘Just Say No’ to EPA’s costly power plan.

Adapted from a press release by Emma McAleavey.

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