By: theintelligencer.net |

The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency’s push for more restrictions on coal-fired power plants and the resulting shift to using more natural gas could cost local residents $750 to $850 more per year for energy use in 2020 compared to what they paid in 2012, a new study indicates.

The study, “Energy Market Impacts of Recent Federal Regulations on the Electric Power Sector,” factors in the EPA’s proposed carbon rule and other regulations, along with the expected doubling in price of wholesale natural gas in coming years. It determined Ohio residents would pay $852 more in energy costs in 2020 compared to 2012, while West Virginia residents would pay $750 more.

The Ohio breakdown shows a $456 increase in residential electricity bills, from an average of $1,250 in 2012 to a projected $1,706 in 2020. Natural gas costs during that same period are projected to increase from $772 in 2012 to $1,168 in 2020. The yearly energy cost for the average Ohioan would go from $2,022 in 2012 to $2,874 in 2020, a 42 percent increase, the study projects.

In West Virginia, the average residential electricity price is projected to increase $336, from $1,273 per month in 2012 to $1,609 in 2020. Natural gas costs are projected to go from $687 in 2012 to $1,101 in 2020, a $414 increase.

The yearly energy cost for the average West Virginian would go from $1,960 in 2012 to $2,710 in 2020, a 38 percent increase, the study projects.

Arlington, Va.-based Energy Venture Analysis Inc. performed the study. It was commissioned by Peabody Energy.

Nationwide, consumers and businesses would see the cost of electricity and natural gas increase by nearly $300 billion in 2020 compared with 2012, the study found. Each household would shoulder about $680 of that share, the study found, an increase of 35 percent.

“Our analysis is the first to fully examine the combined economic impacts of the EPA’s long list of proposed and finalized regulations on the electric power industry, including the mercury and air toxins standards, regional haze regulations and the Clean Power Plan, whose four building blocks are based on flawed assumptions,” said Seth Schwartz, president of Energy Ventures Analysis. “For example, existing coal-fueled generating facilities are already operating at very efficient levels and, collectively, will not be able to achieve an additional 6-percent heat rate improvement.”

The cost of electricity would increase the most in states that have deregulated their wholesale electric power markets, such as Ohio.

The study identified a $177 billion increase in electricity costs and a $107 billion increase in natural gas costs in 2020 compared with 2012 when the cumulative effects of EPA regulations and energy market impacts are analyzed. The study concludes that U.S. power markets would see a shift in electricity generation from coal to natural gas, causing upward pressure on natural gas demand and prices.

The industrial sector will be hard hit with total electricity and natural gas cost for the sector approaching $200 billion in 2020, almost double the cost from 2012. This could hamper industrial growth in the U.S., as companies that produce aluminum, steel and chemicals rely on low-cost and reliable electricity to compete in the global market.

The study uses 2012 as the base year to match the EPA’s base year for its Clean Power Plan analysis.