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Clean Energy Said To Raise Electricity Cost

by Jeff Johnson
October 31, 2011 | A version of this story appeared in Volume 89, Issue 44

An Energy Information Administration (EIA) study, requested by the House of Representative Science, Space & Technology Committee Chairman Ralph M. Hall (R-Texas), found that U.S. electricity prices would increase by 29% if a nationwide clean energy standard similar to one proposed by President Barack Obama and Sen. Jeff Bingaman Jr. (D-N.M.) is implemented. However, Democrats on the House science committee charge that Hall cooked the books by limiting EIA’s use of alternatives that could have reduced the financial impact of electricity sources that emit less carbon. The study looked at increasing use of wind, solar, nuclear, natural gas, coal-fired power plants with carbon capture technologies, and other technologies that reduce carbon dioxide emissions. In Hall’s scenario, the standard would lead to a mandate that utilities generate 80% of their electricity with clean energy sources by 2035. However, utilities would not be able to use financial tools, such as emissions trading or banking, to limit the impact of new energy sources. A clean energy standard is likely to become important as part of several proposed energy bills expected to come before Congress. Bingaman has requested an EIA study that is broader and allows analysts to use several scenarios to reduce costs, which is expected in November.


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