Shhh! The climate bill will reduce electricity bills. (They won’t believe it.)

John D. Wilson | June 26, 2009 | Climate Change, Energy Efficiency, Energy Policy

While utility executives are trying to scare people with claims that “climate and energy policy is a conspiracy of the Northeast and the West Coast to drive the cost of electric power up in the South to slow southern economic development,” NRDC has just released a report that shows the average electric bill will go down if the proposed climate bill is passed.

Again: Electric. Bills. Reduced.

Southeastern ratepayers can expect to see a monthly savings of $4-5. OK, that won’t pay off the mortgage. But it is a far cry from the disaster that utility executives are tossing about.

The NRDC study is consistent with the findings of other analysts who have studied the climate and energy legislation.

Unfortunately, I’ve come across more and more utility executives citing this nonsense as “fact”:

Lamar Alexander is questioning [TVA President and CEO] Tom Kilgore on the cost to produce electricity, “in the spirit of turning this from an environgmental disaster into a longterm technological opportunity.” He asks what it cost per kilowatt-hour to generate electricity, including the costs of building the plants.

Kilgore’s answer:

coal — 4.5 to 5-cents per kwh, for older plants.
nuclear — 4.2 cents
natural gas — 10 cents
hydro — a few dollars
solar — they don’t have a figure as they buy it from other folks
wind — 70 cents

(Thanks to Southern Beale for liveblogging, you can watch it on the Senate Committee website, the exchange between Senator Alexander and Mr. Kilgore is at about 1:10.) What is absurd about this is not that Mr. Kilgore gave some offhand comments in a totally inconsistent manner, but that other utilities are citing these remarks (pdf) as if they are authoritative engineering estimates. Of course they’ve been debunked.

If they’re denying global warming, or making up economic nonsense, or tossing around selective and biased cost estimates, it must be groundhog day.

John D. Wilson
For more than a decade, John has directed SACE’s research activities and led SACE’s utility reform campaigns. He often represents SACE in formal or informal stakeholder engagement with utilities, and…
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