Neither the EPA’s carbon regulations nor Congress’ cap and trade plan have become law, but already American consumers are feeling the pain of the left’s environmental policies in their pocket books. USA Today reports:
Clean energy has a dirty secret.
It isn’t cheap.
Consumers already are starting to feel at least a modest pinch in their electric bills. The impact is expected to grow in the next few years as utilities accelerate their investments to meet state quotas requiring a portion of clean energy in their generation mix.
Until recently, clean energy didn’t noticeably affect rates because it accounts for just 3% of U.S. power generation. That’s changing as utilities scramble to meet state quotas, says Standard & Poor’s analyst Anne Selting. Among rate increases:
- In Arizona, Tucson Electric Power in January raised rates 6%, or $4.29 a month for an average customer, to fund new solar power to meet state quotas. Solar is pricey, costing more than twice as much as natural-gas-fired electricity. And since Arizona has surplus natural-gas power, the solar energy is not replacing generators that would be built otherwise, says the utility’s Joe Salkowski.
- In Oregon, Portland General Electric is seeking a 2.3% rate increase to raise the annual $41.3 million needed to fund construction of a big wind farm.
- In Texas, the prices Austin Energy pays for wind power more than doubled recently. The reasons: strict state renewable quotas that drive up demand and high costs to deliver wind energy from West Texas, says General Manager Roger Duncan. Customer charges could rise next year, he says.
- California has among the highest electric rates, partly because it requires 20% clean energy by 2010, Makovich says. And with the most accessible green power tapped, Southern California Edison is spending $2 billion to build lines to deliver wind energy from remote areas, says utility executive Pedro Pizarro. It’s also developing expensive solar power.