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Study: New EPA regulations could raise Alabama electricity rates 20 percent


MONTGOMERY, Ala. — Gov. Robert Bentley on Tuesday stood alongside leaders from the 60 Plus Association (60+) — commonly referred to as the conservative alternative to AARP — to unveil a new study showing that recently proposed Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) regulations could cause Alabamians’ electricity rates to spike by 20 percent.

An EPA ruling announced in June mandates the State of Alabama cut power plant carbon emissions by 27 percent by 2030. More than half of all the electricity Alabama Power generates in the state comes from coal-fired plants, which critics say are the real target of the regulations. Additionally, more than 16,000 Alabama jobs are dependent upon the coal industry, which has an estimated $1.3 billion economic impact on the state.

RELATED: War on Coal hits home, Alabama Power forced to shut down coal units

On Tuesday, 60+ expressed particular concern for seniors who will be disproportionately impacted by the spike in rates due to their low or fixed income.

“Many of Alabama’s seniors rely solely on social security, and electricity prices are already a great burden,” said Amy Frederick, President of 60+. “The President’s newly proposed EPA regulations will only make their dire situation even worse. Energy, like food and housing, is an indispensable necessity of life and President Obama should be working to help make the situation better instead of adding to seniors’ financial burden… The EPA is pursuing sweeping new standards that unfortunately do little to improve the environment and will disproportionately affect Alabama’s seniors.”

Gov. Bentley echoed Frederick’s concerns, and added that the proposed regulations could also have a significant negative impact on Alabama’s economy.

“We’re concerned about the cost of energy for individuals in the state of Alabama, particularly seniors, and we’re also concerned about job reductions,” said Bentley. “What they couldn’t do with legislation, they’re trying to do with regulation. We’re going to continue to push back on the federal government.”

The study, which is titled “Energy Bills Challenge Alabama’s Seniors,” had several key findings:

  • > Proposed EPA regulations could raise the price of electricity in Alabama by more than 20%, equating to more than $25 per month for the average customer.
  • > Alabama is home to more than 300,000 senior households that are making $50,000 or less annually, making them among the most vulnerable to electric rate and other energy price increases.
  • > The EPA’s Clean Power Plan could limit fuel supply diversity in Alabama, which could lead to increased costs and a reduction of disposable income by $2,000 annually.

Tuesday was not the first time Gov. Bentley had harsh words for what he believes are job-killing regulations coming out of the EPA.

“I spoke to Gina McCarthy, who is the head of EPA, I had dinner with her in Washington when I was up there in February,” Bentley recalled in an interview with Yellowhammer. “She was trying to explain to me about this 27 percent emissions standard.

“I asked her, I said, ‘Gina, who comes up with these crazy ideas?’” Bentley continued. “That’s what I said. I said, ‘Who comes up with the crazy idea of setting it at 27 percent?’ Well, she stammered around because she couldn’t answer me. I said, ‘You’re killing jobs! Do you not care that we have 16,000 coal miners in Alabama and you’re going to kill their jobs? Do you not care about West Virginia that has a tremendous number of coal jobs. Do you not care about that? Who comes up with these ideas?’”

But in spite of the exasperation from Alabama leaders, the results of the new 60+ study should not come as a surprise. In January of 2008, then-candidate Barack Obama explicitly said that under his plan “electricity rates would necessarily skyrocket.”

For a more detailed look at the newly released 60 Plus Association study, click here.

Follow Cliff on Twitter @Cliff_Sims

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