The U.S. Energy Information Administration has released a report revealing that 31% of American households faced difficulties in affording energy bills during 2015.
“According to the most recent results from EIA’s Residential Energy Consumption Survey (RECS), about one in five households reported reducing or forgoing necessities such as food and medicine to pay an energy bill, and 14% reported receiving a disconnection notice for energy service. Households may also use less energy than they would prefer; 11% of households surveyed reported keeping their home at an unhealthy or unsafe temperature.”
The problem will be getting worse.
In September, California’s Governor Jerry Brown signed Senate Bill 100, which mandates that by 2045 all energy produced instate must be derived from “carbon-neutral” sources. The measure also prohibits importing power from sources that don’t meet S100’s standards. The cost factor will be significant. A Bloomberg review notes “Opponents — including the state’s investor-owned utilities run by PG&E Corp., Edison International and Sempra Energy — raised concerns that the requirement would increase electricity costs. California would need to install more than 200 times as much energy-storage capacity than it has now to make up for the loss of gas plants, according to the Clean Air Task Force, a Boston-based energy-policy nonprofit.”
On the East Coast, New York’s Governor Cuomo continues to block the production of affordable energy in his state. The Wall Street Journal notes that “The U.S. shale boom has lowered energy prices…[but] those living in upstate New York and New England have been left in the cold by New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo, whose shale gas blockade could instigate an energy crisis in the Northeast. … and now he’s blocking natural gas pumped in other states from reaching Northeast markets…Last year the Governor compounded the economic damage by blocking the 120-mile Constitution pipeline transporting natural gas from Pennsylvania to upstate New York and New England…the region desperately needs more natural gas to make up for lost power from the impending shutdown of nuclear and coal plants. New England’s Independent System Operator projects that 14% of the region’s electric generation capacity will be retired within three years and says more pipelines are needed for grid stability. Mr. Cuomo is also forcing the premature retirement of the Indian Point nuclear plant, which provides a quarter of New York City and Westchester County’s electricity. He hasn’t offered a back-up plan…”
American progressives frequently cite their admiration for the European Union’s energy policies. A study by the Manhattan Institute disclosed that:
“Between 2005, when the E.U. adopted its Emissions Trading Scheme, and 2014, residential electricity rates in the E.U. increased by 63 percent, on average. In Germany, those rates increased by 78 percent; in Spain, by 111 percent; and in the U.K., by 133 percent. Over the same period, residential rates in the U.S. rose by 32 percent. During 2005–14, residential electricity rates in Germany, which has the most aggressive support for renewables, increased by 13 cents, to 40 cents per kilowatt-hour—an increase larger than the average cost of residential electricity in the U.S. (12.5 cents). E.U. countries that have intervened the most in their energy markets—Germany, Spain, and the U.K.—have seen their electricity costs increase the fastest. During 2008–12, those countries spent about $52 billion on interventions in their energy markets. Emissions reductions achieved by the E.U. since 2005 have been greatly exceeded by increases in emissions in the developing world. During 2005–14, the E.U. reduced its carbon-dioxide emissions by 600 million tons per year. Over that same period, the combined emissions of four developing countries—China, India, Indonesia, and Brazil—increased by 4.7 billion tons per year, or nearly eight times the reduction achieved in the European Union. . Bans or restrictions on hydraulic fracturing and, therefore, on natural gas production have made European countries more dependent on imported energy and have contributed to higher electricity prices.”
Frank Vernuccio serves as editor-in-chief of the New York Analysis of Policy & Government.