The War on Coal – The People Will Find Out

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By Christopher Hopkins, The Saint Consulting Group

There is a classic line from the political thriller True Colors spoken by the late Richard Widmark, “God help you when the people find out. And they always do.” The political leaders in Washington should take heed to those words as we move forward with our current energy policies, or lack thereof.

Consumers are coming to the point when they will feel the effects of environmentalists’ and EPA’s war on the coal industry. A recent article by Phil Kerpen outlines the upcoming dramatic price increase for electricity.

PJM Interconnection, which operates the electric grid for 13 states and the District of Columbia, recently held its 2015 capacity auction, setting real electricity prices for the coming years, and the results were staggering.

First regarding capacity, during the first quarter of 2012, coal-fired power plants were generating 36 percent of United States’ electricity needs, compared to 44.6 percent during the same period of 2011. This is a direct result of two ongoing occurrences — the campaign by environmental organizations to prevent approvals for state-of-the-art coal fired power plants, and the ongoing campaign to close existing power plants throughout the Midwest and other regions of the country.

What does this mean to the ratepayer? According to Mr. Kerpen’s article, the 2015 capacity price was set at $136 per megawatt, up from the 2012 price of $16 per megawatt. That is an 850 percent increase. Northern Ohio, which has seen more coal plant closures than any other state in the region, is facing a 2015 price of $357 per megawatt, a 2,300 percent increase from current electric prices.

Either way, electricity is going to cost more, much more, in the not-too-distant future. Why you may ask? The answer is the reckless growing influence that Non Governmental Organizations (NGOs) are having on our public policy. Organizations such as the Sierra Club are spending tens of millions of dollars lobbying for plant closures, lobbying against the approval of new, modern coal plants, lobbying against anything coal-related — and without having in place a viable affordable energy alternative.

It is the average American that can least afford it who will ultimately pay for these efforts as Washington caves in to the lobbying. Richard Widmark’s message to Washington politicians seems more applicable today than 20 years ago, “God help you when the people find out. And they always do.”

Click here for Phil Kerpen’s article or go to

Christopher Hopkins is senior vice president for mining and aggregates for The Saint Consulting Group, email

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