Proposed Federal Regulations Leave Pennsylvania in the Cold

Earlier this month, KDKA hosted their 7th annual Warmathon raising $404,558 during the two-day event. Since the inception of this program, over $2.3 million dollars have been raised to provide heating assistance to almost 1,200 families in the Pittsburgh region.

The Pennsylvania Coal Alliance was proud to be an event sponsor and make a donation to the fund. "The issue is close to our hearts," said Pennsylvania Coal Alliance CEO, John Pippy. "Our members are proud to supply Pennsylvania with reliable and affordable, low-cost electricity."

Photos courtesy of CBS Pittsburgh

This program has become more necessary than ever over the past few years. According to the Pennsylvania Public Utility Commission's annual Cold Weather Survey released in December, 23,213 households statewide had no heat-related utility service compared to 19,653 in 2013; an additional 1,959 homes. Shut-offs by utilities because of nonpayment have risen sharply in the past few years leaving many out in the cold.

There are more than 2.4 million low-income families in Pennsylvania -- 50 percent of the state's households -- that spend 19 percent of their after-tax income on energy.

A study by the 60 Plus Association, a national group that advocates for seniors on fixed incomes found that high energy prices already have forced more than 40 percent of low-income seniors to go without needed medical care and even to skip meals and shut off heat on cold days. Air conditioning, lighting, and heating are essential to American daily life, and are critical for the survival of elderly and infirm citizen and high energy prices disproportionately impact these ratepayers.

According to a recent study by the National Economic Research Associates (touted as a

conservative analysis), if the EPA's "Clean Power Plan" is enacted as proposed, Pennsylvania's electric rates will increase 14-21 percent.

The 60 Plus Association’s report found EPA’s newest proposal to regulate greenhouse gas emissions from existing power plants will further strain the budgets of low‐ and fixed‐income seniors who are among the most vulnerable to electric rate and other energy price increases.

It is not just low-income and fixed-income groups that will be faced with tough decisions, all ratepayers and industries that rely on affordable electricity will be affected. According to the Pennsylvania Department of Environmental Protection, implementation of the rule as currently written will cause 70 percent of Pennsylvania's coal-fired power plants to shut down bringing job creation, manufacturing and many of Pennsylvania's economies to a grinding halt in addition to every Pennsylvania resident feeling the pinch of sky rocketing electric rates.

"We should try to achieve an EPA policy as it relates to Pennsylvania as well as other states that doesn't put that kind of burden on ratepayers," stated Senator Bob Casey this past December.

The Pennsylvania Coal Alliance along with ratepayers and their concerned elected officials await the "Clean Power Plan" reveal this June and hope the EPA considers the millions of opposing comments from grid operators, consumer advocates and policy makers. Responsible energy policy that considers all outcomes and constituents is vital, particularly when 50 percent of the state’s households who are most vulnerable to electric price increases will be at the brunt of these changes. Access to affordable electricity should be a priority and no Pennsylvanian should have to choose between keeping their family warm and basic life necessities.