Pennsylvanians pinched

SOARING energy bills since coal power station-shutting emissions standards emerged are putting lower and middle income families under strain, according to the Pennsylvania Coal Alliance.

Blair Price

The industry group was concerned that a recent study commissioned by the American Coalition for Clean Coal Electricity found that 49% of Pennsylvania households spent an average of 19% of their after-tax income on energy.

For the state’s poorest, the study found that energy bills swallowed up as much as 72% of family incomes.

“The alarming thing is that this study was completed before [power grid operator] PJM Interconnect had to request special permission to exceed a $US1000 ($A1120) per megawatt-hour price cap on wholesale power during the recent polar vortex," PCA CEO John Pippy said.

"As a result, many Pennsylvanians are in for considerable sticker shock as they receive their electric bills over the next couple of months."

According to the Energy Information Administration, average wholesale prices were $42/MWh in PJM’s region last year.

Three coal-fired power plants closed in the state last year, with PCA worried more will close due to recently proposed federal emissions standards.

"The new standards fail to take into account what is achievable with current technology," Pippy said.

"As a result, the federal government is unilaterally taking coal out of the nation's energy mix, much to the detriment of Pennsylvania's economy and the state's energy consumers."