Rightwing media are echoing claims by the fossil fuel industry that the Environmental Protection Agency's (EPA) Clean Power Plan, President Obama's landmark climate change policy, will dramatically increase electricity bills. In reality, while the Clean Power Plan may slightly increase Americans' electric bills in the short term, multiple independent analyses support the EPA's claim that the plan will result in significantly lower electric bills once it is fully implemented.
EPA Finalizes First-Ever Limits On Carbon Pollution From Power Plants
President Obama: Clean Power Plan Is “Most Important Step” U.S. Has Ever Taken On Climate Change. On August 3, the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) released the final version of its Clean Power Plan, a key component of President Obama's climate change agenda. In a press conference announcing the final rule, President Obama called it the “single most important step that America has ever made in the fight against global climate change.” [NPR.org, 8/3/15]
Right-Wing Media Make Dire -- And Baseless -- Predictions About Plan's Impact On Electric Bills
Karl Rove: Manufacturing Companies “Have Been Warned ... Their Utility Bills Will Go Up 30 To 40 Percent.” On the August 4 edition of Fox News' America's Newsroom, Republican political consultant and Fox News contributor Karl Rove said those who say the Clean Power Plan will cost too much for consumers are “right,” and added: “I've been talking, for example, to some manufacturers in Ohio who say they've been warned by their power provider their utility bills are going to go up between 30 and 40 percent. And because they're energy-intensive industries, this is going to make them uncompetitive on the national market”:
Townhall's Benson: Clean Power Plan Is "A Regressive Tax That Hits Poor People The Hardest." On the August 3 edition of Fox News' Outnumbered, Townhall.com's Guy Benson said that the Obama administration's claim that the Clean Power Plan will lower electricity bills is “just fiction,” and that “study after study shows that this is a tax.” He also said: “It's a regressive tax, by the way, that hits poor people the hardest because they can't afford to pay more for electricity.” During the segment, co-host Sandra Smith added, "[I]f you don't want to take Guy's word for it ... you can take the word of all these states who have looked at it and said it's not good for jobs, it's not good for our electricity costs, it's pretty much bad all around." Co-host Harris Faulkner added that people in warmer states “are going to end up paying more to try to be just as comfortable, because who's going to want to suffer just because the White House thought it was a good idea?”
FBN's Phil Flynn: Under EPA Plan, Prices Consumers Pay For Electricity “Are Going To Be Through The Roof.” On the August 3 edition of Fox News' Happening Now, Fox Business Network's Phil Flynn claimed of the Clean Power Plan: "[W]hat it means for the American consumer is that the prices you pay for electricity are going to be through the roof." [Fox News, Happening Now, 8/3/15]
Marc Morano: Clean Power Plan “Will Make Energy More Expensive Across The Board,” Hurting “Minorities, The Poor, [And] Seniors.” On the August 3 edition of Fox Business' Cavuto: Coast to Coast, frequent guest and “Merchant of Doubt” Marc Morano claimed that the Clean Power Plan “will make energy more expensive across the board”:
MORANO: It's going to make energy more expensive across the board. Families are going to suffer. People on fixed incomes. We've already had an African-American civil rights leader protesting some of these policies. Some of them have gone after Robert Redford for his supporting policies that would hurt minorities, the poor, seniors on fixed incomes. [Fox Business, Cavuto: Coast To Coast, 8/3/15]
Independent Analyses Agree With EPA That Clean Power Plan Will Lower Electric Bills When Fully Implemented
EPA Administrator Gina McCarthy: Clean Power Plan Will Cut Average American's Electric Bill By 7% in 2030. In an August 3 blog post on the EPA's website, EPA administrator Gina McCarthy stated: "[T]he Clean Power Plan is projected to cut the average American's monthly electricity bill by 7% in 2030. We'll get these savings by cutting energy waste and beefing up energy efficiency across the board." McCarthy was citing data from the EPA's regulatory analysis of the Clean Power Plan final rule, which estimated an average monthly bill increase of 2.4-2.7 percent in 2020, an average bill decrease of 2.7-3.8 percent in 2025, and an average bill decrease of 7.0-7.7 percent in 2030, when the plan is fully implemented. Additionally, an Obama Administration fact sheet stated that the Clean Power Plan will "[s]ave the average American family nearly $85 on their annual energy bill in 2030, reducing enough energy to power 30 million homes, and save consumers a total of $155 billion from 2020-2030." [EPA.gov, 8/3/15; EPA.gov, August 2015; EPA.gov, accessed 8/4/2015; whitehouse.gov, 8/3/15]
Synapse Energy's Clean Power Plan Analysis: Boosting Renewables And Energy Efficiency “Lowers Electricity Costs Over The Long Term.” In a July 23 report, Synapse Energy Economics, Inc., whose clients include public utility commissions, government offices, and non-profit organizations, found that “reducing electricity sector emissions through the addition of energy efficiency and renewable energy actually lowers electricity costs over the long term compared to continuing with existing practices and policies.” Synapse detailed how consumer bills would fall in a “Clean Power Plan compliance scenario with strong energy efficiency and renewable energy investments”:
In a Synapse Clean Power Plan compliance scenario with strong energy efficiency and renewable energy investments (the “Clean Energy Future” scenario), consumer bills are expected to fall while states meet or exceed their emissions targets. For the two-thirds of residential consumers who participate in ratepayer-funded energy efficiency programs under this scenario, 2030 bills are expected to be $35 per month lower than in a business-as-usual (“Reference”) scenario and, on average, $14 per month cheaper than residential bills were in 2012.
Synapse further explained that consumers would “save the most” in states that “invest in new renewable energy sources early on.” It added that consumer costs would not increase "[e]ven in a scenario in which ... CO2 emissions are dramatically lower than the levels required in the proposed Clean Power Plan," due to “the falling costs of renewables, steady costs of energy efficiency, and increasing costs of conventional generation.” [Synapse Energy Economics, 7/23/15; synapse-energy.com, accessed 8/3/15]
Georgia Tech Study: Clean Power Plan Can Result In U.S. Electricity Bills That Are 6 To 8 Percent Lower in 2030. The Georgia Tech School of Public Policy published a July 2015 working paper, which found that nationwide, “compliance with the [Clean Power Plan] rate goals can be achieved” with per capita electricity bills in 2030 that are 6 to 8 percent lower than in a business-as-usual scenario, and that cost savings from complying with the plan “are likely due to the lower electricity sales resulting from greater energy efficiency.” The report noted that the “low-carbon pathways” it assessed for complying with the Clean Power Plan included “introducing carbon prices, strengthening energy efficiency policies, and updating cost assumptions for solar photovoltaic (PV) systems.” [Georgia Tech School of Public Policy, July 2015]
Public Citizen State Reports: Clean Power Plan Can Cut Electricity Bills. The consumer advocacy group Public Citizen released a series of reports in June and July addressing the impact on the Clean Power Plan on electricity bills in individual states, based on an analysis of data from the EPA and U.S. Energy Information Administration (EIA). Public Citizen found that the EPA climate plan can reduce electricity bills in the following states by 2030: Maine (11.3 to 12.5 percent reduction), Ohio (11.2 percent), Pennsylvania (9.2 to 9.8 percent), New Hampshire (10.3 to 11.5 percent), Virginia (7.7 to 8.4 percent), and Missouri (7.8 to 10.6 percent). [Public Citizen: Maine, Ohio, Pennsylvania, New Hampshire, Virginia, Missouri]