More coal propaganda from the Intelligencer (with Nov. 21 update)
With conflicts-of-interest, flawed methodology and misinformation -- another biased coal study predicts rising energy costs
The front-page headline yells "Power Plan Hits Home" and the sub-headline warns "Would raise electric rates for residents." Yes, the Intelligencer's front page features another biased energy study. Casey Junkins writes:
As the U.S. Senate this week passed legislation to prevent the Environmental Protection Agency from implementing its Clean Power Plan, a new study estimates the rule will cost American consumers an extra $214 billion on their electricity bills by 2030.
The study by Energy Ventures Analysis, a Houston-based consulting firm, projects $2.3 billion of this additional cost will come in West Virginia, where officials fear the Clean Power Plan will both cripple the already struggling coal industry and catapult electricity bills to record heights. The study also estimates coal-fired power capable of running 24 million homes will come off the grid as a result of the Clean Power Plan.
Energy Ventures Analysis? I thought that the name seemed familiar. Yes, a year ago I wrote about another one of their studies cited by the Intelligencer which predicted that electricity prices would go up. The study was funded by Peabody Coal and I wrote:
Should we be surprised that a study funded by the world’s largest coal company tells us that EPA rules and greater reliance on natural gas will cost the consumer? Is this study biased? Of course it is - this isn’t news, it’s coal company propaganda.
It appears that Peabody didn't pay for this one - at least, not alone. No, this one was done with the National Mining Institute. Beyond working with NMI, Energy Ventures Analysis (EVA) has additional conflicts-of-interest. Midwest Energy News cites Matt Kasper from the Energy & Policy Institute who explains the conflict of interest:
For starters, Kasper produced a document stating that some principals at EVA have an ownership interest in another company, Clearstack LLC. EVA principal Thomas Hewson, Jr. is also Clearstack’s Chief Executive Officer.
That 2013 press release indicated that Clearstack’s other owners include Bowie Resources and Sterling Energy. Both companies are involved in the coal and natural gas industries either directly or through related companies and joint ventures.
Clearstack’s business is “clean coal technology” for coal-fired power plants. If the Clean Power Plan is weakened, then more coal plants would likely stay open and go through retrofits, Kasper reasoned. “That’s where Clearstack comes in.”
On the other hand, he continued, if the final rules are strict, more coal plants could close. Clearstack would be “a loser” if that happened, or if its technology couldn’t achieve necessary emission reductions, Kasper said.
In addition, EVA has done substantial work for utilities, fossil fuel companies and trade associations, Kasper added.
Beyond the conflicts-of-interest issue, this new study from EVA appears to be seriously flawed and filled with misinformation -- at least that's what the Union of Concerned Scientists concluded. And if you prefer a very detailed analysis of the study's deficiencies, I would highly recommend Starla Yeh at the National Resources Defense Council.
Okay, for the gambler's out there, I'll set the over-under on the number of days until this EVA study is referenced in an editorial or a Myer column at 7 days. (My hunch is that the smart money will be on the "under.")
Update - November 21 - the tip of the (melting) iceberg
That didn't take long. It took only 2 days to reach the editorial page and so the "under" wins. From this morning's editorial:
If you want to get hot about climate change, think about what President Barack Obama's plan on it will cost you: at least $32 billion a year in higher electric bills throughout the nation.
That may be just the tip of the iceberg. The $32 billion represents how much more power will cost at wholesale rates, according to Energy Ventures Analysis, a Texas consulting firm. Retail rates will be higher.
Never mind that the study is flawed, was done by a company with a major conflict-of-interest, and was financed by mining interests, the study allows coal's propaganda outlets, such as the Wheeling "newspapers" to give the appearance that they are using real evidence. And that's why these studies are done.