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Another Junk "Study" from 60 Plus on the EPA's Clean Power Plan

The industry-funded 60 Plus Association is back with another bogus analysis attacking the EPA’s Clean Power Plan. This one focuses solely on Louisiana, presumably in an attempt to influence the state’s Dec. 6 run-off election for U.S. Senate. This report uses the same basic tricks as the last one: focus on electricity prices, not actual bills that consumers will pay, and focus more on the near term than the long term.

There’s a lot of fluff in the report, but its main charge against the Clean Power Plan is that the rule will increase retail electricity prices 4.5 percent to 11.7 percent by 2020 in the power regions that include Louisiana. As I discussed last time, the retail price of electricity is misleading. Here’s why: The Plan also projects that people will use less electricity due to increases in energy efficiency. That means electricity bills will decline even though the price of electricity goes up. Actual consumer costs don’t fit 60-Plus’s narrative, so it cites misleading figures on retail prices instead.

The 60 Plus study also focuses on the EPA’s projection for electricity prices in 2020 rather than 2025 or 2030 because the latter numbers are more favorable. (Clean Power Plan Regulatory Impact Analysis (RIA) Tables 3-21, 3-22, 3-23).

The report actually helps make the case for a stronger Clean Power Plan, though surely unintentionally. It cites multiple projections that electricity prices will rise steeply through 2040. (60 Plus Louisiana Report at 4). Rising prices are all the more reason to reduce the amount of electricity that consumers use by promoting aggressive energy efficiency measures.

A recent report by the American Council for and Energy Efficient Economy (ACEEE) found that Louisiana could invest in energy efficiency to

  • save 157,763 gigawatt-hours of electricity between 2016 and 2030 (ACEEE Change is in the Air Table C1);
  • save $6.2 billion between 2016 and 2030 by investing in energy efficiency (Table C6); and
  • create 11,500 additional jobs by 2030 (Table C7).

I haven’t attempted to calculate how much of Louisiana’s Clean Power Plan compliance this approach would take care of, but it’s probably very high. ACEEE estimates that the efficiency measures it outlines would curb carbon emissions nationwide by 26 percent from 2012 levels by 2030. That’s about 73 percent of what the Clean Power Plan seeks (a 30 percent cut from 2005 levels by 2030). By the way, ACEEE notes that its analysis is intentionally conservative. We can do even better.

Maybe reporters can ask 60 Plus whether it supports these robust efficiency measures. (In the unlikely event that it says yes, they can follow up by asking what it’s doing to support them.) They should also ask it why it doesn’t support the Clean Power Plan if it really cares about seniors’ expenses — and why it doesn’t support strengthening the Plan with more robust energy efficiency targets.