Statement of Louisiana Public Service Commissioner Eric Skrmetta regarding the Obama Administration’s policies and the impact on energy prices

Despite court cases in which judges have ruled the Environmental Protection Agency has overstepped its statutory authority in attempting to regulate cross-state emissions, President Obama’s Administration is hell-bent on artificially altering the economics of energy production and consumption.

With policies that have overburdened the coal industry, many mines and coal production facilities have closed or are in danger of doing so. Many consumers don’t realize that coal is a primary fuel used in the production of electricity and, moreover, that current consumption rates would allow coal to meet energy needs for – literally – several centuries. Notwithstanding the potential value of alternative energy sources such as solar and wind, there is no legitimate reason to reduce our reliance on or use of coal as an electricity-producing fuel.

It’s about to get a lot worse.

Because of EPA industry killing regulations, electricity prices are poised to increase as much as 20 times current costs in some states in just a few years. A recent energy auction by PJM Interconnection, which regulates the power grids in 13 states and the District of Columbia, saw prices rise from $16 per megawatt to $136 per megawatt. In northern Ohio, energy prices are expected to rise to $357 per megawatt – a x 20 factor increase.

This is irresponsible energy and fiscal policy, it is completely economically untenable for American consumers. Imagine your own electric bill increasing by these outrageous artificial prices. Imagine the ripple effect on prices of other things you consume: If grocery stores are paying much higher prices to light and refrigerate their facilities, those costs will be passed along to you. If you are paying much higher prices to light and heat your own home, what other budget items will you cut from your family’s spending? The ripple becomes a wave.

These new prices from the PJM auction are set to go into effect in 2015 in PA, OH, WV, VA, MD, DE, NJ, and DC, and in parts of IL, MI, IN, KY and NC.

If consumers in those states are made aware of the looming impact, their voting behavior will surely alter. If consumers in other states fail to see the handwriting on the wall and begin to push back against energy policies that can only be described as ridiculous it may not be long before rate increases such as these are felt in other regions and, eventually, nationwide.

This is an economy-killer.

In Louisiana, I am working hard to prevent ANY federal policies from impacting our energy costs and production so dramatically. There is no reason for this situation, other than a Washington-driven desire to force us into alternative energy.

Alternative energy sources are worthy of exploration, research and development. But not on the consumers dime. We are a very long way from being able to afford and efficiently deploy such alternatives – and to be frank, we shouldn’t be forced to anyway.

The coal supply is adequate for an estimated 500 years. We should use it for our own country and economy. But instead we are on the road to eliminating our use of coal in 30 years and all the while exporting our coal energy resources to countries like China, who is building a new coal fired power plant every couple of weeks.

Oppressive regulations and policies are being implemented to artificially impact an industry on which every American relies not just daily but every minute of every day. In Louisiana, we are pushing back and we are – so far – winning. I’m working hard to keep it that way.

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For more information about Skrmetta and the Public Service Commission, visit EricSkrmetta.com or find him at www.Facebook.com/EricSkrmetta.

Media contact: James Hartman, james@jameshartman.net or 504.458.4600