Home » Op-Ed: High electric bills are result of years of unsound energy policies

Op-Ed: High electric bills are result of years of unsound energy policies

by Robert Berry, President and CEO of Big Rivers Electric Corporation and Tony Campbell, President and CEO of East Kentucky Power Cooperative

In recent months, electric utility customers across the U.S. have received a shock as they opened their monthly electric power bills. 他们正在经历的高成本主要是多年来不健全的政府能源政策的结果, which have cut options to fuel reliable energy. U.S. 电力生产商被迫更多地依赖天然气,必须与外国竞争我们国内的天然气供应. Those nations are willing to pay 1,000 percent more than U.S. consumers are accustomed to paying. Some, notably Russia, 利用这种情况将能源武器化来推进他们的激进利益.

U.S. policy-makers have enthusiastically incentivized solar and wind generators, 不管这些技术的操作特性与美国的标准是否相符.S. energy needs. 但是,当这些太阳能和风能资源不能发挥作用时——这种情况就像太阳落山和季节变化一样可预测——能源生产商必须转向可靠的24/7/365热能资源. For large-scale energy production, that means natural gas, coal and nuclear. But, 面对越来越严格的法规和来自大量补贴的可再生资源的价格竞争, coal and nuclear plants increasingly are being driven into retirement.

In 2020, the U.S. added 27.6 gigawatts (GW) of solar and wind resources, along with 6.6 GW of natural gas; virtually no coal or nuclear resources were added. In fact, over the past decade, 95 GW of coal capacity has been shut down, along with 12 nuclear reactors. Today, no new coal plants are being built in the U.S., and only two nuclear reactors are under construction. As a consequence, when solar and wind do not show up, 电力供应商必须越来越多地转向一种关键的灵活资源——天然气. Today, 40% of U.S. electricity generation is fueled by natural gas, up from 17% in 2001.

太阳能和风能的推动者无疑会坚持认为,公用事业规模的电池技术是解决可再生能源间歇性问题的灵丹妙药. But today, less than 1% of U.S. solar and wind capacity is backed up by batteries. 大规模储能技术在很大程度上仍处于发展阶段. Rapid deployment of large, 支持数百千兆瓦太阳能和风能资源的公用事业规模的电池将需要积极进取, expensive growth of battery-manufacturing capacity. Today, 锂离子电池是公用事业能源储存和电动汽车所追求的最重要技术,而生产锂离子电池所需的大部分矿物来自中国和俄罗斯等国, whose interests do not align well with the U.S.

As the U.S. is learning at this very moment, we must account for differences in foreign interests when it comes to energy. 近年来,俄罗斯为欧洲供暖和制造业提供了三分之一的天然气. In response to Russia’s recent invasion of Ukraine, those nations imposed sanctions, so Russia cut the flow of natural gas. As a result, gas prices are spiking around the globe. Large-scale U.S. purchasers of natural gas, including East Kentucky Power Cooperative and Big Rivers Electric, have been accustomed to paying $2 to $3 per million BTU for natural gas; meanwhile, power generation counterparts in Europe and Asia are paying $20 to $30. In fact, in recent months, 这些地区的现货价格已飙升至每百万BTU 50至60美元. 最近,由于天然气价格低,大河决定将其燃煤发电厂之一转换为天然气,但同样的天然气价格却飙升至每百万BTU 9至10美元以上.

For U.S. electric customers, this means high electric bills. President Biden recently pledged to expand U.S. natural gas exports to assist our European friends. (It is worth noting that U.S overseas natural gas exports are a new development. In 2016, the U.S. exported very little liquefied natural gas overseas. By the end of this year, the U.S. will have more export capacity than any other nation on the globe, nearly 14 billion cubic feet of gas per day. Plus, each day, the U.S. exports to Mexico another 7 billion cubic feet via pipelines.) As a result, 美国人发现自己处于与外国竞争国内天然气供应的尴尬境地.

Meanwhile, 限制和减少煤炭和核能生产的压力正在赶上天然气行业. 在COVID经济低迷期间减产的天然气钻井公司重启生产的速度很慢, even though factories and stores roared back to life in 2021. 媒体报道称,由于惩罚性的监管风险,天然气生产商不愿投入大笔资金进行钻探. And even if they are willing, 由于银行面临削减化石燃料生产贷款的压力,石油公司在安排融资方面面临困难.

At a 2019 town hall in New Hampshire, 拜登总统曾说过一句名言,他会把化石燃料公司的负责人关进监狱. It was, perhaps, just election-season hyperbole, but his administration certainly wasted no time in targeting the industry. The Environmental Protection Agency is deploying an intensive barrage of regulations aimed at fossil fuels; this will hasten the closure of even more coal plants and further hinder the development of new natural gas capacity. These actions create tremendous uncertainty for financial partners, which are vital to the capital-intensive energy industry. As a result, 金融机构正在放弃化石燃料或将融资成本提高到令人望而却步的水平.

As with natural gas, U.S. 煤炭生产商突然有了一个有利可图的机会,向那些愿意支付比美国高得多的价格的国家出口煤炭.S. coal market has seen in recent years, creating steep upward cost pressure domestically, 此外,由于煤矿公司在重启业务时面临诸多挑战,可用煤炭也十分稀缺, including labor and equipment shortages, constrained rail transportation, high financing costs and regulatory resistance.

Recently, U.S. 能源部长詹妮弗·格兰霍姆参观了EKPC在肯塔基州列克星敦附近的太阳能发电场. During her visit, EKPC首席执行官坎贝尔告诉格兰霍姆部长,可再生能源在能源生产中发挥着重要且日益重要的作用, especially to cut carbon emissions and address climate change. But he also informed her, if the U.S. goes too far too fast with the transition, 它将严重危及美国能源供应的成本和可靠性, 这对美国人民的福利和美国经济至关重要.

EKPC and Big Rivers are committed to doing everything we possibly can, 通过利用所有可用的工具来保护我们所提供能源的可靠性和成本效益.3500万肯塔基州居民和企业,同时在技术允许的情况下朝着更可持续的未来迈进. EKPC和Big Rivers相信“综合考虑”的方法可以通过利用太阳能来保持更平衡的资源组合, hydro, coal, 和天然气,以保护环境,并为我们的业主会员提供可靠的能源. 我们呼吁我们国家的领导人做出同样的承诺,并确保美国的安全.S. 难道不会将我们丰富的国内能源供应的成本和可靠性暴露在激进利益集团的突发奇想之下吗, 外国国家和我们的敌人肆无忌惮地将世界能源供应武器化.

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