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EPA Clean Power Plan Should Actually Ease Electric Bills

Research is finding an EPA plan to reduce carbon emissions should actually cut electricity bills, if it uses energy efficiency as well as renewables. Photo montage by Evan Hansen.
Research is finding an EPA plan to reduce carbon emissions should actually cut electricity bills, if it uses energy efficiency as well as renewables. Photo montage by Evan Hansen.
July 27, 2015

CHARLESTON, W.Va. – An Environmental Protection Agency plan to cut carbon pollution should actually save families money, if meeting it includes energy efficiency, according to two separate analyses just out.

Critics of the Clean Power Plan charge it will sharply raise the cost of electricity, but research by
Georgia Institute of Technology and Synapse Energy Economics, an environmental consulting firm, finds the plan could actually cut utility bills by using conservation and renewables.

Professor Marilyn Brown from the Georgia Tech School of Public Policy says efficiency and shifting to wind, solar and biomass should make a typical utility bill somewhat smaller.

"We see a reduction of, depending on the state, anywhere from 5 to 10 percent rather than an increase," she states.

Brown says business as usual would mean bills 9 percent higher by 2030.

The EPA is expected to announce exact details of the plan in the next month or two. The plan to reduce carbon emissions from existing power plants is part of the agency's strategy to help address global climate change.

The big coal and oil corporations, and their allies in Congress, are waging an all out fight against the Clean Power Plan because they say it will cost jobs in energy states, including West Virginia.

Still, several opinion polls have found the EPA’s plans to cut carbon remain overwhelmingly popular nationally.
And Brown says researchers found energy efficiency under the Clean Power plan would mean greater employment.

"You spend a lot more on labor when it comes to energy efficiency and renewable systems than you do in the generation of electricity for large power plants, whether it's nuclear, coal or natural gas," she explains.

The Georgia Tech projections are very similar to those from Synapse Energy Economics. And they are broadly in line with what was found in a report on the impact in West Virginia from researchers at Downstream Strategies and the WVU Law School.

Dan Heyman/Scott Herron, Public News Service - WV