Why Your Electric Bill Will Soon Go Up

by Gerri Willis

Remember the promise of green energy? We'd use the power of Mother Nature herself to fuel our homes and our vehicles. Wind turbines, solar panels and electric cars would transform our lives -- and lighten our bills when it came to paying for energy. Kumbayah!

How I wish that was true! Here's the reality: At least 16 utilities - which cover more than 6 million customers - are trying to raise consumer rates by at least 5%. Almost half of them want increases of 10% or more - that's according to the Daily Beast.

American Electric Power serves millions of customers in eleven states - including Virginia, Kentucky, Ohio and West Virginia. Those customers are getting walloped - over the last few years rates have skyrocketed by nearly 88% and will rise another 35% by 2014!

In Wyoming, thousands of customers of Rocky Mountain Power will see their bills go up not once, but twice this year! This spring they went up 2% - and last month customers saw an 8% rate hike. Heading south, a 17% increase is in the works for Duke Energy customers. And Gulf Power in Florida is working on forcing a 10% increase on its customers. Alaska isn't exempt either - those residents are seeing a 24% hike! Again - these are just a few examples!

Those numbers are mind-boggling. Especially since in the ‘90s and early 2000s - electric bills only rose about a percent! So why the big hikes now?

The review sites two big reasons. For one - the power grid simply can't keep up with modern demand as more people use more stuff - appliances, computers, gadgets. American Electric Power predicts rolling brownouts as demand is expected to grow by 44% over the next few decades. But the biggest reason is what I mentioned at the beginning of this blogpost - more government regulations!

The environmental protection agency - the bane of existence for utility companies - is forcing these businesses to shut their coal plants and invest millions and millions of dollars into removing toxins from the air. Even states are getting in on the regulation party.

More than half of them are imposing new clean-energy standards requiring utilities to feed in renewable sources. Now to be sure - I'm not advocating for pollution. I like to breathe clean air as much as the next person. But what has me fired up are these unintended consequences of government regulation. They may be unintended - but not unknown!

First, the government wanted to regulate the health care industry - and we're getting higher costs, and fewer options when it comes to seeing the doctor or going to the hospital. Then they went after the banks... and we got increased fees. Now they're telling power companies how to do business - and we're getting higher bills.

Government is costing us - personally and as a nation. It's time we unwound this regulatory morass that is strangling business and stealing our future. You don't have to look far to see that government isn't the solution - right now it's the problem.