New rules will soon be in place to govern fossil fuel usage and cut carbon pollution coming from America's power plants. The Environmental Protection Agency proposed the plan last year, and it is expected to be finalized this summer. Most of the rules have to do with the generation of electricity, so it might not be obvious that the plan would have implications for the average consumer. As it turns out, the EPA plan could make a big difference in homeowners' utility bills – hopefully a positive one.
Reduction in Energy Bills
While many people fear that new clean energy rules will cause the retail price of electricity to skyrocket, experts are predicting otherwise. According to an analysis by the National Resources Defense Council, low and fixed-income households should actually see their utility bills fall by an average of 8 percent. In total, the group suggests that consumers could save as much as $37.4 billion on their electricity bills by 2020.
Why such a rosy picture? As the nation switches to more sustainable energy sources like wind, the costs of production will fall. Furthermore, since the fuel price for wind and solar is zero, consumers will be shielded from volatile prices of coal and natural gas, which can make electricity bills vary widely. What's more, the Clean Power Plan will promote investment in household energy efficiency to encourage families to reduce their own consumption.
A Boost to the Economy
Some think tanks are also predicting a boost to the economy as we transition to a cleaner energy grid, with jobs available to build and maintain the emerging infrastructure. People will be needed to work on windmills and solar installations, for example.
"The most important takeaway from our analysis is that, after accounting for the various ways in which the Clean Power Plan puts upward and downward pressure on employment, we find a net increase in jobs,” Industrial Economics Principal Jason Price said to UtilityDrive.com, forecasting a net gain of 74,000 jobs in 2020 and as many as 273,000 jobs by 2040.
Health and Climate Concerns
There should also be ancillary benefits to the EPA plan. Cutting down on fossil fuel emissions means less pollution in the air near ground level, too, so people should suffer from fewer related health problems. NRDC predicts that the change will prevent up to 6,600 premature deaths, 150,000 asthma attacks in children and 3,300 heart attacks.
In addition, the less carbon the nation burns, the less we accelerate climate change, which is poised to cause unpredictable but inevitably expensive disruptions in familiar weather patterns.
All in all, nobody knows for sure what will happen with the new EPA rules, since they haven't been finalized yet. However, if the experts' predictions are anywhere close to reality, Americans will be able to celebrate cheaper and more environmentally-friendly energy in the not-too-distant future.