Paying the price for war on coal
Between 2011 and last year, the United States lost enough coal-fired electric generating capacity to serve about 47 million homes, we reported last weekend.
What has that meant to the millions of families who have lost access to low-cost electricity generated with coal? Money. Monthly electric bills have gone up and will continue to do so.
During the 2011-16 period, the average cost of electricity sold for residential use in the United States went from 10.4 cents per kilowatt hour to 12.75 cents. That is an increase of nearly 23 percent.
Some of us still enjoy low-cost power from coal. Here in West Virginia, where most electricity still comes from coal-fired generating stations, the average cost last November was 11.72 cents per KWH.
But in a preview of things to come if the government’s assault on affordable power continues, look at prices in California (17.97 cents) and Massachusetts (19.15 cents). Neither state has significant coal-fired generating capacity.
Apologists for the war on coal and affordable electricity insist low natural gas prices are the reason many utilities are scrapping coal-fired generating units.
Indeed, the gas from which a growing amount of electricity is being generated has been cheap — about $2.49 for enough to produce a million BTUs in heat value, according to the Energy Information Administration.
But by 2018, the price is expected to climb to $3.35 per million BTUs, according to the EIA. That will mean skyrocketing electric bills for millions of Americans.
Supporters of former President Barack Obama’s assault on the coal industry may well enjoy statistics about the decline of coal-fired electricity. But for those who have to pay the bills, they are a reason to hope President Donald Trump reverses the attack as quickly as possible.