“…Electricity Rates Would Necessarily Skyrocket”

He didn’t get cap and trade, but he’s still going to ram huge electricity rate increases down the throat of America.

“This is further evidence that EPA is waging a war on coal, and a war on affordable electricity prices and jobs. EPA continues to ignore the damage that its new regulations are causing to the U.S. economy and to states that depend on coal for jobs and affordable electricity,” said Mike Duncan, president and CEO of ACCCE, in a statement.

However, ACCCE notes that EPA policies may have played a role more than 4,800 megawatts of announced closures not included on in their report which would bring total shutdowns to 241 coal generator in 30 states — more than 36,000 MW of electric generation or 11 percent of the U.S. coal fleet.

Go read the whole piece.

Look, folks, I am in this field. I have been for more than 30 years. Losing 36,000 MWs of the most cost-efficient generation capacity in the US is a disaster. You have no idea how bad the increases are going to be. They will be disastrous to the individual energy consumers and apocalyptic to large users – those who create jobs.

I shudder to think of what this is going to do to grid reliability as well. A lot of those coal plants help support the grid during disruptions. They regularly provide both energy and MVARs (Mega Volt-Ampere Reactive) that keep the grid from collapsing when large loads are added or lost. (That’s about as simple as I can make it and still be understood.) Losing these stabilizers will make it very hard to hold the grid. I pity the load dispatchers.

Trust me, people, this is a very big, very bad thing that is happening as a direct result of Barack Obama’s war on coal.

Oh, and his one fulfilled campaign promise.

Update: Ok, I found a fairly good explanation of MVARs that isn’t too engineering-heavy.

Update: Thanks to Glenn Reynolds for the link. Visitors, please do take a look around – and thanks for following the link over.

Update: And thanks to everyone who has linked this, including Powerline.

Update: Related, the War on Coal.

This entry was posted in Appalling, Energy, Obamantics. Bookmark the permalink.

27 Responses to “…Electricity Rates Would Necessarily Skyrocket”

  1. Congrats on the ‘lanche, Gaius!

  2. Jeffersonian says:

    It won’t just be the $/kwh rates, but the penalties for power factor that will be skyrocketing, too, to keep overall system amps down, and it’s only the big industrial customers that pay those. That means it’s going to get that much more attractive to plunk your new aluminum foundry/car assembly plant/etc. in a foreign country.

  3. Jim Warren says:

    I sure wish you ‘bitter clingers’ would just relax!

    Everyone in DC knows that the magic ponies that push the electricity out of the wall socket and into their iPhones don’t like that dirty electricity that comes from coal.

  4. GM Roper says:

    Excellent post Gaius. I’m hoping and trusting that all the folk that are either leaning towards Obama or who aren’t sure are listening, because we are not very likely to get another chance if Obama is re-elected. And, as TC said, congratulations on the Instalanche. Well deserved if I may add.

  5. Seerak says:

    Re: MVAR’s, you are referring to the capacity to handle “slosh” in volt-amps with big load changes — the same volt-amps involved in power factor calculation, yes?

    If so, I grokked it, and yes it’s scary. It’s a measure of how short-range a culture is getting when it insists on eroding the safety margin needed to handle surprises; things get more and more brittle until you get the Taggart Tunnel disaster from “Atlas Shrugged”, or insufficient lifeboats on the Titanic.

  6. Neville says:

    Liberals dream of a world in which costs don’t matter, and try to make that world a reality by acting as if costs didn’t matter. This is attempted magic via performance art: a ‘rain dance’.

    It’s amusing to watch people who think themselves much too sophisticated for traditional religious beliefs fall so totally for the most primitive religious illusion of all, a confidence that a benevolent supernatural will simply drop exactly what they think they want from the sky (in this case affordable energy that is also pristinely ‘clean’).

    As usual the rest of us will have to clean up the mess, repair the damage and bear most of the costs, while our liberal visionaries move on without apology to whatever their righteous enthusiasm fixes on next.

  7. Stuart Wagner says:

    Came here via Instapundit and will be back.

    I have a good friend who runs one of the largest utility funds in the country. He’s been saying the same thing for the past year and is a long-term bull on natural gas because once these plants shut down, there’s no where else to go.

    Thanks for the informed commentary…….

  8. Pat Chiles says:

    I’m not sure how generating capacity is traded (like commodities, maybe?), but recall reading a few months ago that power supplies for 2014 had already been auctioned at prices 5 to 10 times higher than whatever it’s going for now. IIRC this was largely dependent on region, and we can expect ours (OH/WV) to easily be around 8 times higher.
    If that translates directly to consumer rates, then our family’s power bill will be somewhere north of $600 a month. I have no idea how we’d pay that.
    Not to mention the rolling blackouts that are certain to occur – isn’t the national grid already running close to capacity right now?

  9. JoyO says:

    If Obama is re-elected, ALL UTILITY RATES WILL NECESSARILY SKYROCKET due to the rules and regulations generated by Obama’s Administration — those already enacted and those that they are waiting until AFTER THE ELECTION to enact. We know electricity rates will go up due to Obama’s War on Coal and his War on Oil. I believe gas rates will also skyrocket due to Obama’s War on Fracking.

  10. Nate Hertel says:

    Gaius, I’m interested in your thoughts on natural gas.

    As I understand it, NG plants are relatively quick to power up in the event of increased loads on the grid; the supplies are domestically produced and somewhat immune to geopolitical instability (maybe excepting legal/regulatory challenges to fracking); and the technology is pretty mature, which hopefully equates to low construction and operating costs when NG is cheap, as forecasts are predicting.

    Can gas power be added to the grid faster than coal plants are taken offline?

    It is completely ridiculous for this administration to peddle and ‘all of the above’ energy strategy. We have a pitiful media. Where are the fact checkers? Oh that’s right.

  11. Harry Schell says:

    The people who get hurt the most by environmental piety are the poor and those on fixed incomes.

    The level of economics understanding, and who hurts the most, is so stunningly minimal I have to wonder if anyone is that stupid.

    To the extent this plan increases dependence on government redistribution of wealth to hide the impacts, which often secures a reliable voting bloc, two things will happen. The political class and their pilot fish (Jeffy Immelt comes to mind) will profit and enjoy life without pause. And the party will end with economic/societal collapse, which might intrude on some golf outings.

    Jerry Brown is implementing a cap/trade scheme in CA. Listening to him talk about the path forward makes me think he and his cadre are dancing to the echoes of the band, which has already left. The music is long over, but Moonbeam is still dancing.

  12. From one EE to another, I concur with your conclusions, Gaius.

    And let me add that the outages that will result from removing this much capacity are not the kind that get resolved in a few minutes … you don’t just flip a switch when you’re talking about 230kV/345kV/500kV transmission infrastructure. Not to mention that repeated outages can cut into the lifespan of the switching elements … leading to costly replacements that trickle down to our electric bills.

    Imprudence, driven by a cult belief masquerading as “science”, that just happens to dovetail well with Progressive attempts at guilt- and wealth redistribution in societies. A recipe for blackouts … that comes from Dim Bulbs that think they are the Best and Brightest among us.

  13. bflat879 says:

    I wonder how many of those coal fired plants could have been converted to natural gas with the money we blew on Solyndra? Just wondering.

  14. Mkelley says:

    Here’s 158 megawatts going bye bye in Billings, Montana:


  15. Jim Hurley says:

    In case you didn’t know hydroelectric power in the state of Washington is not a renewable source of energy. It was so decided in a referendum vote a couple of years ago.
    On the North Olympic Peninsula they just remove two dams that generated about 25 megawatts of energy, and are up in arms over two paper plants building new biomass plants. There are eight groups taking turns going to court in different jurisdictions to get the companies to stop building the plants.

  16. Lee Dodson says:

    Don’t know if anybody’s noticed, but right now television is busily running ads (psa) about officials calling an “energy alert,” and how we good little citizens should all join in, set thermostats to 78 degrees, cut off major appliances, and wait for night time to do laundry, etc. Oh, yeah, we’re all so green and concerned….

    The first thing I think is “where is there anything about five and ten years past when new plants and infrastructure was proposed?”

    From energy resources, to low flush toilets, to bringing bags to the supermarket, we have let the “social consciences” rule us. The EPA being chief among them.

    It always starts with little stuff, doesn’t it? The mines and plants were closed years ago. We were too polite to argue about it, and the corps found a way to make money with it.

    Shame on them. Shame on us.

  17. Pingback: More War on Coal « Free the Commons!

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  19. Otter says:

    Found you via Tom Nelson, Added!

  20. I linked this in May, its not speculation about what could happen with Obama’s drive to put us in fuel-poverty ghettos, it’s what will happen in three years–auction prices for 2015, what the utilities have bid for electricity.


  21. Pingback: Instapundit » Blog Archive » WHAT IF SPARTACUS HAD A PIPER CUB? MSNBC and Jeff Greenfield ponder what if Al Gore had won in 2000 …

  22. Gaius says:


    Quick isn’t instant. It takes time to get them on line. Demand must be met instantly (or very close to instantly).

  23. John Hasley says:

    Nate and Gaius,

    I think you’re talking about two different things at the same time. “Quick to power up” is a matter of “it’s 90 degrees in the afternoon so we have more air conditioners running than when it was 70 degrees this morning, and the need will drop again after sunset.” Replacing shut down power plants with natural gas means buying land, grading it, pouring concrete, buying turbines from GE or Siemens, running wires to the grid, and all the other work. To say nothing of regulatory approval and possible court cases.

    Natural gas plants have certain advantages over coal plants. But doing real work requires…doing real work. As an analogy it’s one thing to require that new automobiles have antilock brakes or airbags, and it’s another thing to require that half the cars currently being driven be replaced this year with new cars.

  24. feeblemind says:

    Question for Gaius:

    Should the Repubs come to power and roll back these regs, can the closed generating plants be brought back on line in a relatively short time, or once closed will they be dismantled and lost forever?

  25. Gaius says:

    If the plants are laid up the can brought back on line. If they’re dismantled, no. I heard some utilities are going to mothball (lay up) the plants. Not sure how many. Also the lay up has to be done correctly.

  26. Gaius says:

    I only answered part of Nate’s question. I’m aware that plants take years to construct – and that there is a shortage of skilled trades as well.

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