Wednesday, November 12, 2014

Energy Poverty Is Hurting Millions

What would you do if your utility bill was 25% lower? The price of electricity in the US is steadily going up, and it's low-income people who are bearing the greatest impact.

Usually when the economy is slow, energy prices drop and provide some kind of natural stimulus. Indeed, prices of both coal and natural gas have been low over the last few years as global economic growth has lagged. Unfortunately, your utility bill has kept going up: Residential electricity costs have risen by over 3% per year for the last ten years despite reasonable natural gas and coal prices.

What's to blame? Renewable Energy Mandates' that most states have adopted over the last ten years.

It's no secret that wind and solar carry higher costs per kilowatt hour than coal and dry gas do. Just two years ago, ten states had residential electricity costs below 10 cents per kilowatt hour. Now only three states remain under 10 cents. Rising electricity rates in a time of stagnant income has added to the misery of millions. Thanks, green energy.

Louisiana is one of the few states that said 'no way.' And, surprise, surprise, Louisianans enjoy 25% lower electricity costs than the national average. On average, Louisianans pay only 9.7 cents per kilowatt hour for their electricity. Even Texas has adopted renewable energy mandates, and cost per kilowatt hour there is 12 cents.

As of 2012, natural gas, nuclear and coal accounted for 8,500 GWh of usage in Louisiana, while renewables accounted for well under 500.

Economical energy generation has not only helped keep the bills low, but it is also partly responsible for the petrochemical renaissance in southwestern Louisiana, which has put thousands of people to work. There are currently an unprecedented $47 billion in petrochemical plant projects in the Lake Area right now.

Cameron LNG plant under construction near Lake Charles

Lower electricity prices are a direct shot-in-the-arm to low income folks who spend the greatest portion of their paycheck to keeping the lights on. It's a 'tax cut' that goes right to their pockets. Unfortunately, Democratic legislators have widely pushed state renewable energy mandates and have raised electricity prices on low-income earners at a time when wages are stagnant at best and unemployment is high.

Repealing these hurtful 'renewable energy mandates' should be a high priority for a Republican-majority congress. However, I have a feeling that this issue will fall right through the cracks if voters don't put pressure on their representatives. One way or the other, these renewables mandates need to go.

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