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Obama's plan means Utah's energy bills will rise

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  • Frozen Fractals Salt Lake City, UT
    June 4, 2014 12:34 a.m.

    They don't have to even have a plan in the state for 2 years and the target doesn't have to be met for 16 years. Energy prices aren't skyrocketing anytime soon, and if the state can actually come up with a decent plan and the nation can innovate like a global power is supposed to, it shouldn't have much of an effect at all.

  • high school fan Huntington, UT
    June 4, 2014 3:43 a.m.

    Nice editorial, Jay seems to get it. Utah's power plants do not affect Salt Lake City and do not change you winter inversion. Just remember this, when you are fogged in there in the Valley, we are living under crystal blue skies here in Castle Country.

  • UtahBlueDevil Durham, NC
    June 4, 2014 6:26 a.m.

    "But the people’s representatives in Washington, the ones we elect to make decisions affecting our lives, had nothing to say about this. If it’s dictated to us, it isn’t our plan."

    So true.... and its their own fault. Its kind of like telling your kids that their room needs to be cleaned up, and you leave it to them to do so. After five years of asking and warnings, you as a parent final go in an clear their room for them. And no, your not going to keep the same stuff they would have. Its not going to be put the way they wanted it to be. But by their own inaction, they predicated the only reasonable action.

    The new rules don't tell the states how to achieve the lower emissions. The states have 16 years to get this done. With today's technology, yes, this is a hurdle. But think 16 years back.... what technology do we have today that we didn't have then. Smart phones, flat screen tv s (that use a lot less power), hybrid cars, fit bits... carbon fibre passenger jets. 16 years is plenty of time.

  • Baron Scarpia Logan, UT
    June 4, 2014 6:38 a.m.

    "...some of the most abundant, efficient and clean coal in the world..."

    Let's be clear here: Coal is polluting (e.g., mercury emissions alone pollute our air and water and make it so that we sportsmen can't eat some of the waterfowl we hunt and fish we catch!). There's no such thing as "clean coal." In fact, the Obama Administration has indeed invested significant stimulus money into developing clean coal technology, but as of today, it doesn't exist and is destined to be very expensive.

    Talk of carbon taxes and restrictions have been part of the civic dialogue for more than two decades, and other states, including California and Texas, have been working to address that looming threat... but as usual, Utah is a day late and a dollar short. Why? Disbelief in climate change and a hatred of Obama have blinded our utilities and policymakers from acting accordingly to the looming risk of emission restrictions.

    The day has arrived -- no Mitt Romney, standing with unionized coal workers during his campaign, to save the day. And if Hillary becomes our next president, these regulations are likely to stand.

  • Baron Scarpia Logan, UT
    June 4, 2014 6:51 a.m.

    The Energy Information Administration has determined that natural gas and wind energy are now the cheapest forms of electricity on a levelized-cost basis. What this means is that the internal rate of return on building these projects is the lowest -- compared to new coal, nuclear, and other electricity resources.

    Natural gas, nonetheless, poses its own risks, including fracking and price volatility.

    So wind is a good bargain because it is price stable! No fuel costs means that its price is determined by its fixed costs and expected productivity over a wind project's 20 year life. Some wind in Texas is coming in at less than 3 cents a kilowatt hour!

    Natural gas also uses a lot of water (for steam and flushing boilers), like coal and nuclear. Utah, the second-driest state in the union, is expected to have a population explosion over the next 20 years, so we can't burden our kids and grandkids with water-intensive energy sources. Wind and solar use no water.

    Gas and wind/solar are "good partners" going forward as the variability of renewable energy can be easily "backed up" by cleaner nature gas.

  • liberal larry salt lake City, utah
    June 4, 2014 7:44 a.m.

    Experts predict that the new pollution regulations will cost the United States power plants 8.8 billion dollars per year.

    Let me see, $9,000,000.000 divided by 300,000,000. Americans equals $30 per american per year.

    That means that the average american will spend a whopping 8 CENTS per day on reducing green house gases.

    I can find 8 cents in the 7-11 parking lot on the way to buy my 99 cent Big Swig!

  • RP888 Layton, UT
    June 4, 2014 7:45 a.m.

    "The scientific evidence is clear: global climate change caused by human activities is occurring now, and it is a growing threat to society." (2006)
    American Association for the Advancement of Science

  • micawber Centerville, UT
    June 4, 2014 7:55 a.m.

    Earlier this week, the editorial board of this newspaper said we didn't have to worry about overpopulation because human ingenuity would lead to innovation to solve problems attending population growth.

    If necessity is the mother of invention, perhaps higher electricity prices will spur our ingenuity.

    And most hybrids don't plug in to an electricity source.

  • Esquire Springville, UT
    June 4, 2014 8:33 a.m.

    Congress has refused to act. Period. And, Jay, the President was elected by the people. All the people. Thank you, President Obama, for acting when Congress would not. Even though you didn't go far enough, Mr. President, at least you showed some leadership. Congress is a joke. They don't act on much of anything, even on the stuff on which they agree, and then they complain when someone else does (within the power of the law, by the way).

    @ micawber, great comment. We will do better in the long run because of the President's action. 70% of the American people agree with the President. Jay and this newspaper are out of touch.

  • procuradorfiscal Tooele, UT
    June 4, 2014 8:52 a.m.

    Re: "So the days of cheap energy are numbered . . . ."

    Just as Obama promised.

    Obama's sole enduring legacy will be the single campaign promise he made that he intended to keep -- energy prices would "necessarily skyrocket."

  • UtahBlueDevil Durham, NC
    June 4, 2014 8:53 a.m.

    We went from no maned flight program to being the first nation to land on the moon. That took far less that 16 years to accomplish. We are starting from a far better starting point than did space exploration. Surely we are smart enough and will be able to raise to the challenge.

    Maintaining the status quo is not how you lead.

  • erwad whoville, UT
    June 4, 2014 9:10 a.m.

    Micawber's comments were spot on. It is indeed ironic that on the one hand our Utah culture insists in the power of innovation, and efficiency (when it comes to taxes and free markets) yet wants to throw those same principles out when it comes to the dire need for courage, and a straight and narrow way, with regards to cleaning up our power sources - for the benefit of all to continue to enjoy a relatively healthy and happy way of life in this country.

    I don't minimize the pain of job loss or economic loss of those involved, but am quite confident that in the long run, the benefits will certainly outweigh the short term pain. So a black democratic president taking the 'long view,' willing to take a principled stand for efficiency, conservatism and dare I say, faith and hope for a better future - ironic that our Utah culture can't come to terms with this.

  • Lagomorph Salt Lake City, UT
    June 4, 2014 9:35 a.m.

    So much of the conservative criticism of regulation, especially environmental regulation, seems premised on the idea that there is no cost to the status quo and that the expense of regulatory compliance yields only feel good benefits and no tangible economic benefits.

    An insulation contractor in my home town used to advertise that "you pay for insulation whether you have it or not." Similarly, you pay for pollution controls whether you have them or not, in the form of health care, diminished property values, cleaning costs, etc. (It's interesting that Mr. Evenson so casually dismisses the administration's asthma figures as unverifiable while uncritically accepting industry statistics.) Pollution incurs costs, often externalized. To the extent that pollution costs are externalized, utility customers are subsidized. Increased utility rates due to installing pollution controls merely internalizes the external costs of pollution, removing the subsidy and restoring proper market function.

    I could accept conservative objections to regulation if they were more nuanced and focused, for instance, if they argued that the marginal cost of a regulation exceeded the marginal benefit, or that one policy mechanism was more efficient than another. But so often they just naysay any proposal as worthless.

  • patriot Cedar Hills, UT
    June 4, 2014 12:02 p.m.

    Remember people - you voted for your BIG electric bill that is soon to come!! So your BIG electric bill and your BIG insurance premium and all the other BIG bill increases that you will get due to the Obama mandates. Just be comforted in knowing that you voted for this. Progressives care - remember? They care about...their political future and power and that's where it ends folks.

  • A Guy With A Brain Enid, OK
    June 4, 2014 12:25 p.m.

    Article title: "Obama's plan means Utah's energy bills will rise"

    Hey, liberals, are you happy now?

  • GaryO Virginia Beach, VA
    June 4, 2014 1:42 p.m.

    "Obama's plan means Utah's energy bills will rise" . . . and the air will be cleaner, and Global Warming will be a little less severe, and after green energy sources are more extensive, energy bills will decline . . . And maybe mankind will not self-destruct.

    What's so terrible about that?

  • The Real Maverick Orem, UT
    June 4, 2014 2:00 p.m.

    "Hey, liberals, are you happy now?"

    Absolutely! I couldn't be more overjoyed! Well, I could, if we cut emissions by even more! Instead of 30 percent how about 50 or 80?

    We'll have cleaner air and better health! What's wrong with that?

    Would you be happier with dirtier air and worse health?

    "So your BIG electric bill and your BIG insurance premium and all the other BIG bill increases that you will get due to the Obama mandates. Just be comforted in knowing that you voted for this."

    Good! yes, we remember. The majority of this country voted for cleaner air and better health. We understood that it would cost some in the short-term. But in the long run? We all benefit.

    If raising prices without benefit was all that this did, then you folks might have a point. But since we all benefit by having cleaner air and water, I fail to see how this is bad.

    Just how important is your health to you? How important is your children and grandchildrens' health?

  • GZE SALT LAKE CITY, UT
    June 4, 2014 2:21 p.m.

    How about we place the blame where it is due - at the feet of ROcky Mountain Power and the State, which refuses to create a plan?

    And there is no such thing as clean coal. Cleaner does not mean clean; it means less dirty.

  • SAS Sandy, UT
    June 4, 2014 2:39 p.m.

    ...and what is the cost to Utah if climate change continues unchecked? Already we're seeing droughts across the West, reductions in mountain snowpack, and more and more extreme weather. That's hurting our agriculture, stressing our water supply, and causing severe problems for the ski industry.

    For years, the US has lagged behind much of the rest of the world when it comes to reducing our carbon output. Not only the EU countries, but even China and India are implementing new technologies as their economies boom. Yet the conservatives have given up on American innovation.

  • greg14952 Provo, UT
    June 4, 2014 2:56 p.m.

    While it's true that our current legislators have done nothing to address this issue, or little else for that matter, a prior Congress did pass the Clean Air Act which authorized the use of regulation to clean up the air. Unless I've missed something, that's still the law of the land and challenged portions were recently upheld by the Supreme Court. So, unless our current legislators repeal the Clean Air Act, Obama is just exercising the authority given to him by Congress to clean up the air. God bless him, especially next winter when we'll again be suffering from suffocating inversions! And I hope he hurries up with some new monuments in Utah before before our state legislators waste untold millions "reclaiming our land."

  • GaryO Virginia Beach, VA
    June 4, 2014 3:01 p.m.

    'Obama's plan means Utah's energy bills will rise’

    Uh huh . . . because as we all know, energy prices would never rise otherwise.

    They've never risen before, have they?

    They've been going down since the beginning of time . . . But now that Obama has come up with another dumb plan, they're going to go up for the first time in the history of the world.

    If Romney were President, energy bills would NEVER go up.

  • Pardon-me-twice Tooele, UT
    June 4, 2014 3:49 p.m.

    Everyone's talking about our coal burning plants, why do all the elected forget to mention China's pollution reaching our western states.

  • cjb Bountiful, UT
    June 4, 2014 4:37 p.m.

    If one president can with his pen write a directive to tell the EPA to make rules against coal power plants. What is to prevent another president from taking up his pen to write a directive to the EPA telling them to write a different set of rules or to scrap those rules altogether?

    Personally I don't believe that President Obama is really worried about global warming, I suspect there is an other addenda. A president doesn't take a record number of vacations in his 747 if he is really worried about global warming. A president worries about global warming doesn't send his family to Hawaii in a 747 just for them, and the next fly there himself the next day.

  • Lagomorph Salt Lake City, UT
    June 4, 2014 5:51 p.m.

    So coal-powered electricity rates will rise, so what? I would argue that the utility customers Mr. Evenson cites paying less than a dime per kilowatt-hour in the coal belt are paying below market rates due to externalized costs. The consumers pay for the internalized costs of electrical consumption (fuel, generation, transmission, overhead) but do not pay the true full costs of their consumption, which include the effects of air pollution that are shouldered by the larger community. This amounts to a subsidy that sends distorted price signals to the market. Adding emissions controls to coal-fired plants acts to internalize the externalities, that is, to remove the hidden subsidy and make the price of the commodity more accurately reflect its true cost so consumers can make rational economic choices and the free market can function properly. Why do so many free market conservatives have such a hard time grasping this?

    Granted, increased costs for a commodity can cause pain in the short term while people and the market adjust. This can be ameliorated through policies. If coal can't compete in the free market when its true full costs are included in the price, then so be it.

  • marxist Salt Lake City, UT
    June 4, 2014 6:06 p.m.

    We have a big problem with economics, that is, with the science of economics. That discipline has not developed the right tools to deal with benefits, i.e. saving the world as a fit place for human habitation, which are in the distance future as against heavy upfront costs to achieve those benefits. Yes, we have a variety of financial formulas, but they just don't give us a handle on the problem. Because economists can't figure this out, the rest of society flails about looking at pieces of the problem without bringing the entire issue into focus.

    Economists must develop the tools. They aren't doing it.

  • Curt Conklin Provo, UT
    June 4, 2014 9:05 p.m.

    Hey Jay, what is more important . . . a rise of a few cents per kWh in your electricity bill, or clean air? Huh? 9.98 cents a kWh? In Meblourne Australia, greatest city in the world to live in, according to Forbes and the Economist, they pay up to 39 cents a kWh.

  • RP888 Layton, UT
    June 5, 2014 8:13 a.m.

    "The nature and pace of observed climate changes—and an emerging scientific
    consensus on their projected consequences—pose severe risks for our national
    security. During our decades of experience in the U.S. military, we have addressed
    many national security challenges, from containment and deterrence of the Soviet
    nuclear threat during the Cold War to political extremism and transnational terrorism
    in recent years. The national security risks of projected climate change are as serious
    as any challenges we have faced."

    CNA Military Advisory Board

  • airnaut Everett, 00
    June 5, 2014 10:30 a.m.

    Tea-Publicans cry about ONE failed Corporation and the executives who took the money and ran with Solyndra costing taxpayers $200 million.

    While completely ignoring the $25 BILLION - that's with a captiol letter "B" - that the same Governmnet gives to Oil corporations each and every year! -- that's 25 times more each and every year for dirty air and dirty technolgy -- without a peep from the whiners on the right.

    BTW --
    Petroleum Oil was more expensive in the beginning than Whale blubber was at the time.

    Good thing the Progressives 100+ years ago ignored the Whaling Industy and Whale oil salesmen...

  • Spangs Salt Lake City, UT
    June 5, 2014 12:39 p.m.

    Somebody asked if the liberals were happy. Well, as somebody who would have been considered a conservative Republican in the 1980's (now I would be called a RINO or a socialist/moderate or a traitor), I am also happy about what the President did. We need to work on the big problems of the age. Climate change is THE big problem. Right now, Congress complains and does nothing. Nobody but the President has done anything about, well, anything in the past 6 years. If Congress would re-engage in governance, maybe the Republican party could again make impactful contributions to our way of life.

  • Hutterite American Fork, UT
    June 5, 2014 6:11 p.m.

    Liberals, are you happy now?
    Yup. Cheapest isn't always the lowest cost. Not in this case.