New EPA Regulations Harm Alabama
When a politician keeps a campaign promise, it is generally regarded as a pleasant surprise. But, when that promise is to dramatically increase electricity bills, breaking that promise will not disappoint many people.
When he first campaigned for president, Barack Obama said that due to his energy policies, electricity bills would “necessarily skyrocket.” In August of this year, Obama made good on his promise as his Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) unveiled its latest overreaching regulation, the so-called “Clean Power Plan.” The EPA is continuing the Obama tradition of ignoring legal limits of executive authority in order to satisfy a radical political agenda. The “Clean Power Plan” is nothing more than a tax on carbon and its goal is not to improve our quality of life, but to destroy the coal industry. This new rule aims to dramatically reduce carbon emissions within an unrealistic timeframe, essentially forcing coal-fired plants to close.
Alabama, a state which generates 40% of its energy from coal, will have to reduce CO2 emissions 32% by 2030. Coal has helped deliver a critical manufacturing and industrial base to our state, leading to an improved quality of life for all Alabamians.
Affordable energy is the cornerstone of a vibrant economy. More than 250,000 manufacturing jobs in Alabama depend on low cost energy. More than 16, 000 Alabamians work directly or indirectly for the coal industry. Once power plants cut jobs, the ripple effect will be felt across the economy.
This administration often touts how it champions the cause of the working class, but this new regulation places an undue burden on individuals and families. More than half of all Alabama households earn less than $50,000 a year and devote an average of 18% of their after-tax incomes to energy costs. With this new regulation, Alabamians will see energy bills rise by more than $800 a year by the time the plan is fully implemented in 2030. A typical Alabama family will lose approximately $3,400 in disposable income during the time contemplated by this regulation. Ten years ago, Alabama Power customers were paying more than $30 million a year because of EPA’s rules and regulations. Now, the annual compliance price tag is more than $475 million. The estimated annual cost of this new rule is $8.4 billion. Alabamians cannot afford to foot the bill for unnecessary and unsound policies.
While the EPA promises Alabama and other states flexibility, it actually deprives states by reducing the use of the lowest cost and most reliable sources of electricity. Historically, Alabama’s retail electricity suppliers have maintained an affordable and reliable supply of electricity by maintaining a balanced mix of generation sources. These new regulations weaken our generation portfolio and significantly impact the future cost of electricity. Customers will be forced to pay more for a product that is less reliable.
Coal has and continues to be readily available to support affordable and reliable electricity. Rather than recognize the importance of coal, however, the EPA continues to move forward with regulations that will shut more power plants, destroy electric reliability, and dramatically increase costs.
As your PSC commissioner, I am unwilling to sit idly by as the EPA attempts to reshape our energy portfolio at the expense of the people of
this great state. I pledge to continue to do all within my power to protect consumers, keep rates low, and push back against crippling federal regulations.
Chip Beeker serves as Public Service Commissioner, Place 2 and can be contacted at (334) 242-5191 or http://www.psc.alabama.gov/Beeker/commissionerBeeker.