by Mitch Kokai
Senior Political Analyst, John Locke Foundation
Zack Colman of the Washington Examiner focuses attention on a new analysis of rising energy prices.
A 10-percent increase in home energy costs would push 840,000 more Americans below the poverty line, according to a new report from two Republican senators.
Sens. Lisa Murkowski of Alaska and Tim Scott of South Carolina released their report on energy insecurity to highlight some of the repercussions from regulations that they say could raise energy costs, although the study does not advocate a specific policy.
“The lack of affordable energy disproportionately impacts minorities and the working poor, and many families feel the sting of higher energy costs,” wrote Scott and Murkowski, the top Republican on the Energy and Natural Resources Committee. They are set to introduce the report Thursday at a Washington event hosted by the Manhattan Institute.
The report also said that for nearly one-fifth of American families of four, a 10-percent hike in energy costs would equal the amount spent on groceries for two to three weeks.
“Any policy proposal that would tend to increase the cost of energy should therefore be fully evaluated for its impact on energy insecurity, in order to give policymakers a complete picture of its potential consequences,” the report said.
Energy insecurity means that people lack access to fuel, can’t afford to keep their home at a reasonable temperature or have their service cut off for failing to pay bills, the senators said.
Whether it’s realistic to assume a 10-percent increase in energy costs is a matter of debate.
The U.S. Energy Information Administration, the statistics arm of the Energy Department, forecasts an average 3.1 percent increase in electricity prices this year — but those projections take only current policies into account. Implicit in the analysis from Murkowski and Scott is that proposed Environmental Protection Agency regulations will further raise those rates.
“A 10-percent increase in energy costs was chosen because it is realistic, and could be the result of the enactment of public policies, shifting market conditions, or unexpected events. Higher increases are also possible,” they wrote.
These findings should surprise no one who followed the debate about the negative impact of North Carolina’s renewable energy mandate.