Ready For Big Increases In Utility Costs?

Just what we need in the midst of a nasty national recession. Higher utility prices, thanks to the Obama administration and the never ending stream of new regulations coming out of it.

Utilities across the country need more money for grid updates and pollution controls, and are passing the huge bill on to consumers. Laura Colarusso on why electricity bills are rising.

Already weary of high gas prices and 9.1 percent unemployment, many Americans are about to get another kick in the wallet thanks to large increases in their electricity bills.

From Alaska to Georgia and Wyoming to Florida, utilities are seeking permission to pass on hundreds of millions of dollars in new charges to customers to help upgrade aging infrastructure and build new or retrofitted power plants that comply with tougher environmental regulations, a Daily Beast review of regulatory filings has found.

Keep in mind that a lot of the costs here aren’t so much replacement of “aging infrastructure,” which sounds almost reasonable, but rather rate increases to cover the cost of green energy that is being promoted and often even mandated by the federal government.

Case in point, here in North Dakota the tens of thousands of customers who get their electricity from Montana-Dakota Utilities got hit by a rate hike which was necessitated by Montana’s green energy mandate. MDU was trying to defray the rates impact from that mandate on its Montana customers by spreading them out to North Dakota customers, and it’s costing North Dakotan’s some $7.6 million annually.

We can argue about the fairness of North Dakotans paying for something resulting from Montana policy, but the larger point is that the government’s push for “green” is driving up prices. And utility price hikes, especially, are compounded in the economy. Not only do Americans individually pay higher utility prices, but they pay higher prices for goods and services as businesses pass on the overhead from their rising utility prices to customers.

Rob Port is the editor of SayAnythingBlog.com. In 2011 he was a finalist for the Watch Dog of the Year from the Sam Adams Alliance and winner of the Americans For Prosperity Award for Online Excellence. In 2013 the Washington Post named SAB one of the nation's top state-based political blogs, and named Rob one of the state's best political reporters. He writes a weekly column for several North Dakota newspapers, and also serves as a policy fellow for the North Dakota Policy Council.

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  • Lmlucier

    The US energy policy makes NO sense!

  • Jamermorrow

    Not to mention that debasing the currency was already going to raise costs.

    • http://sayanythingblog.com Rob

      Quite right.  This on top of that.

  • sbark

    target middle class:  with waves of inflation, taxes and interest costs…….

    age old plaugerism of Karl Marx

  • robert108

    Fascism=govt control of the means of production.  In this case, energy.  Started with Carter selling out to the enviros.

  • A Citizen

    obama= FAILURE

    obama, the country killer.

    • D17

      Obama told us he wanted electricity prices to skyrocket and they voted for him anyway.  Obama is a failure but he gave enough clues during the election cycle that he would be.  Anyone with a little knowledge of economics knew Obama’s economic policies were bad for Americans.

  • http://Sayanythingblog.com The Whistler

    Hope for Change!

  • geoff

    The Government has mandated all utilities to produce over 20% of their power through wind generation by “I think” 2015.  Wind power alone will drive up wholesale electricity prices by 39% next year alone.  I recently moved to Alexandria, MN and am paying 11.9cents per KWH.  I paid 7.9 cents in West Fargo last year. 

    This President told us in his election campaign in 08 that his policies will cause Utility prices to “Skyrocket”.  Can’t say he didn’t warn us!!!!!!!!  More proof that elections have consequences.

    • http://sayanythingblog.com Rob

      Right now, I believe, it’s just the states that have green energy mandates (Minnesota has one that’s put what amounts to a tariff on coal-fired energy imported from ND, which probably explains your rates in that state).

      • geoff

        Somewhat true.  My utility buys the bulk of its power from the Nuclear plant in Monticello, not from ND.  However, it is true (State Mandated most likely) that all utilities must have a certain percentage of wind power by a certain date.  This came directly from my provider.  They gave me copies of everything, but I can’t remember where I placed it.  If I find it I will copy it and send it to you.

  • Wayne

    And it’s all based on a big scam in the first place.  Coal is our most abundant and cheapest energy source, we can burn ‘clean’ coal.  We are not running out of oil, we are finding more oil all the time.  We are also finding more and more gas.  It’s just plain stupid.  Some are getting rich off of this scam and others are gaining power.

    • mark

      Clean coal?  A true oxymoron. It’s sad that folks aren’t a bit more forward thinking.

      • Wayne

        Yes clean coal.  Learn something.

  • ellinas1

    Does anyone think that the power grid should not be upgraded?

    • mickey_moussaoui

      I worked in the energy industry for 24 years. The power
      grid doesn’t need upgrading, it needs more power. Adding wind power and solar
      power does nothing to “upgrade” the grid. It simply adds another
      source of power. After deregulation of the electric industry took place the new
      holding companies across America that took control of the grid infrastructure
      have been maintaining and updating the “grid” efficiently and
      effectively. America needs more power at an affordable price. We don’t need
      “different” power sources that have a high ROI like wind and AGW is
      still a wild theory short of concrete evidence. At this critical point in
      history we should be utilizing coal and natural gas. In reply to the Oxy Moron Mark, yes clean coal is a reality.

      Low sulfur coal and clean stack scrubber technology has been
      utilized in the energy industry for a couple decades now. The science is
      improving every day. We have cleaner air today than we did a decade ago because
      of it. Unless you are ready to give up many of the luxury that you enjoy today
      like air conditioning, heat, computers and media entertainment you really
      should get more educated on the blessing we have in coal and natural gas
      resources. For example, to replace one 500 megawatt coal plant with solar it would
      require a solar field in the range of 2000 square acres. Now add all the batteries to
      store the electricity that you will need at night. Ask a real engineer what the cost basis is and you will discover that the liberal pipe dream of green energy replacing coal is a joke.

      • ellinas1

        I hear you saying that the “grid infrastructure” is fine and needs no upgrading.

        Brother Mickey, did you know that the oldest power generating plant in the USA was built in 1929?
        The median age of the coal fired power plants is 44 years.
        Don’t you think some have outlived their usefulness, and it is time to retire them, and replace them with newer more efficient and cleaner power plants?

        • mickey_moussaoui

          elli,

          These old
          plants do get retrofit with new equipment. Because the building (brick and
          mortar) are old doesn’t mean that the turbine, boilers, coal burners etc have
          not been updated. Yes, eventually an old plant will be decommissioned. That is
          precisely why we need NEW COAL and natural gas plants to replace them. Wind and
          solar is not a practical alternative. The “grid” is a nebulous term
          for the national power supply. Some power companies are run better than others while
          some are giants and others are co-op owned. You are attempting to generalize
          the state of the “grid” based on cherry picked data. That is a disingenuous
          liberal trick used to justify a plethora of emotional liberal issues, this time
          being “energy”. Look, here is the problem in a nut shell: You liberal tree
          hugging dummies are imposing stupid energy legislation against the welfare of
          the nation based on junk science. The global economies need more power because
          we continue to improve the quality of life which subsequently requires more energy.
          Wind and solar are supplemental power sources. They are not capable of
          replacing what we now have and will continue to need. Perhaps in the future,
          maybe 10-20 years from now it may become practical. But right now, no. Obama
          and his legion of useful idiots are throwing a wet blanket over energy progress
          which is causing a negative ripple effect over the economic welfare of the
          entire nation. If Odumbo had used 50% of the stimulus money on building only 20,
          1000 megawatt nuclear plants he would of created at minimum 30,000 construction
          jobs, 5000 operator jobs, thousands of support jobs and enough electricity that
          we would all be able to purchase one of the stupid chevy volt cars because
          electricity and the “grid” would be solid for another 100 years. But
          Noooooooooooooo, he pissed it away like the liberal dolt that he is.

          • ellinas1

            Brother Mickey.
            I used available data to find the age of the coal fired power plants. Up until yesterday my idea of the “grid” was transmission, and distribution, lines, substations and transformers.
            While looking up “grid” related subjects. I found out that this “gid” thing included poweer plants.
            I cherry picked nothing. I am not using/playing a disingenuous liberal trick to justify a plethora of emotional liberal issues.

            I know we need more power, and I know that this need cannot be fulfilled with wind and solar energy.
            I am all for new nuclear, coal and natural  gas fired power plants. However I was shocked to find the age of some of these plants, and I don’t mean the brick and mortar. A lot of the old coal fired power plants cannot be updated due to cost, for it would be more economical to build a new one.However the owners of said power plants don’t even want to do that, because their “old power plant” is usually paid for, and their only expense is labor routine maintenance and coal.

  • geoff

    Ellinas,

    Not sure why the grid needs to be upgraded in ND.  In the past 20 years has there ever been a shortage of power where there were scheduled black outs, were there any blackouts due to overloading of the grid? The only reason the grids need upgrading is because of the implementation of wind power.

    • ellinas1

      Because some of the “grid’s” individual components are much older then you, and the power generation, transmission, and distribution in ND does not exist in a vacuum or is totally isolated and cut off from the rest of the US.

  • HG

    Energy independence is the future.  That is to say, individual energy independence.  I’m countint the days until I can generate enough solar or hydrogen energy to tell the gov’t and our local monopoly to hit the road.  Self-sufficiency is probably the best weapon against gov’t regulation and a monopolized energy market.

    • geoff

      I’ve been directly involved in a zero energy building.  It is acheivable, but the cost is astronomical.  There is a house on display in St Paul.  Roughly a 1500 square foot house which cost $600 per square foot to build and it produces more energy than it consumes and they sell the excess power back to the utility.  Right now with solar, you can spend about $20K and end up with a water heater.

      Good luck on becoming self sufficient

  • Davo

    “3 million customers in West
    Virginia that get their electricity from American Electric Power have
    seen their rates increase between 48 and 88 percent over the last few
    years. Those rates are expected to rise an additional 10 to 35 percent
    in the next three years. The reason? AEP officials are quick to blame
    environmental regulations that they say are going to cost the company $8
    billion in compliance and upgrades.

    “None of this is cheap,” says *****Mike
    Morris, AEP’s chief executive officer******.”Michael G. Morris’s Forbes.com profile:http://people.forbes.com/profile/michael-g-morris/2762$9,026,114.00 compensation in 2010.Big Government (and Big Business, and Big Media) on the Left will say these environmental regulations are necessary to protect our planet. Big Government (and Business and Media–including this blog, ironically) on the Right will say these environmental regulations are unfairly punishing and burdening customers in an economic downturn.But no one will say we need to fundamentally reform the way we think about executive pay structure.**Because Both The Left And The Right Are On The Side Of Preserving The Status Quo.**And they know that reducing it to a Left-Right dichotomy (Left=Pro-Environment; Right=Pro-Business) will distract us enough to prevent us from effecting real change.

    • Davo

       Well that got butchered.

      AEP’s CEO made $10 Million last year. He says the costs caused by the EPA-necessitated increased environmental expenses need to be passed on to the consumers.

      Environmentalism is a wedge issue–the Left supports environmental regulations, the Right opposes them.

      The Government/Media/Big Business all have an interest in keeping this debate about environmentalism, rather than executive pay structure.

      Hence we see stories like this over and over again. And we will continue to see them for as long as we support breaking down complex issues into simplified Left-Right dichotomies.

      • Davo

        And one of the main ways we simplify these issues is by focusing on the speaker of a claim–or even just the speaker’s label–at the expense of the claim itself.

  • banjo kid

    Get ready? it is already here and will only get worse if the EPA is not reigned in. We must stop it or we will all be in the poor house paying for non existent green energy .

  • ND in MD

    If wind power /“green energy” is the future and way to go, why doesn’t Washington lead by example? Washington always talks about providing “leadership” for America, right?
     
    The US Capitol, White House, EPA, IRS and all big government office buildings should be disconnected from the local power company and connected to a wind farm. We could build wind mills on the Mall, White House ground, Capitol grounds, etc. Congress critters, the President and bureaucrats could turn on their computers the day the wind blows, they use their electric lights the day the wind blows, they could use their copy machines on days the wind blows. Etc.
     
    If wind energy is such a great idea, why don’t they show us the way.
     
    I lived just outside of Washington for almost 25 years, and I know from experience, on those hot, humid, sticky summer days, the wind doesn’t blow – the air is dead still. I use to wish the wind would blow just to stir up the stagnet air. I want to see our leaders run their air conditioning these days. If it is good for us, it should be good for them.
     
     

    • geoff

      Good point ND in MD.  THe real question should be, why do we keep trying to produce something that no body in their right mind wants to purchase.  The math won’t ever add up.  Whey supply diminishes with our current sources of energy it will become to expensive to produce and the alternative energy may become a more affordable source of energy.

      The Government needs to stop subsidizing alternative energy immediately.  Invest wisely in research and development and maybe someday these other technologies will become cost effective.  Until then, stop wasting tax payer dollars on poor investments.

    • Spartacus

      I want to see their air conditioners running too God knows they already stink as it is, especially the Liberals that push for more costly energy sources.

    • Camsaure

      Wind energy would be the way to go in Washington with all the blustery politicians there.

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