Lamar Smith says Clean Power Plan will raise Texas energy costs by 16 percent a year: False
U.S. Rep. Lamar Smith, the Environmental Protection Agency and National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration have been frequent sparring partners. In a Dec. 6, 2015 oped column, Smith, R-San Antonio, took to the San Antonio Express-News to warn readers against the EPA’s Clean Power Plan.
The EPA has described the Clean Power Plan as a necessary, though not sufficient, step in addressing climate change — and as part of a larger strategy to spur other nations to reduce emissions. It was the subject of a previous fact check. The plan is aimed at states with fossil-fuel fired electrical plants.
Smith wrote: “Texans will be hit even harder than those in other states. The Electric Reliability Council of Texas (ERCOT) has estimated that the Obama administration’s Power Plan will cause energy costs in Texas to rise as much as 16 percent per year.” According to the Federal Regulatory Energy Commission, ERCOT manages 90% of the electrical load of Texas; it is a nonprofit corporation.
The way the statement is phrased, it sounds as though every year energy costs in Texas will rise 16 percent. But the ERCOT report on the effects of the EPA Clean Power Plan says the increase will be over a longer period of time.
The Oct. 16, 2015 report and an accompanying news release says that “energy costs for customers may increase by up to 16% by 2030 due to the CPP alone, without accounting for the associated costs of transmission upgrades, higher natural gas prices caused by increased gas demand, procurement of additional ancillary services, and other costs associated with the retirement or decreased operation of coal-fired capacity in the ERCOT Region” (ERCOT does not estimate how much these other factors might raise energy costs in their analysis).
In other words, by 2030, energy costs will have risen 16 percent since the CPP took effect.
So, how big is the disparity between a 16 percent increase by 2030 and a 16 percent increase each year until 2030?
It helps to know when the Clean Power Plan is scheduled to come into effect.
According to the EPA’s Clean Power Plan Final Rule, states with fossil fuel-fired electric generating units need to create plans that set emissions standards for those units. Vermont and the District of Columbia are exempt because they have none of the relevant units, and Alaska and Hawaii are exempt because the EPA says it lacks enough information to determine the best system of emission reduction for non-contiguous states.
Plans are due in 2016 (with a possible extension to 2018), and the reduction in emissions needs to start by 2022, with extra rewards for states that also cut emissions in 2020 and 2021.