EPA And The Electricity Cost Crisis


Francis Menton

Over in Europe, the energy cost crisis, particularly as to electricity, proceeds apace.

Germany, deep into its Energiewende (energy transition) that began in 2010, leads the way. Almost all coal and nuclear power plants have been closed in favor of a massive building plan for wind and solar facilities. After a decade of that, for the past couple of years, Germans have suffered consumer retail electricity prices of over 30 euro cents per kWh — close to triple average U.S. consumer rates. On November 25, a German news source called The Local (behind pay wall) quoted an energy market expert named Mirko Scholssarczyk for the proposition that “40 cents per kilowatt-hour was likely to be the new normal in 2023 and 2024, and that prices could even rise to 50 cents per kilowatt-hour after that.” Meanwhile, my own post from December 24 cited data from a Belgian think tank called Brueghel showing that Germany was in the process of spending some 260 billion euros, around an astonishing 7% of GDP, to subsidize consumers to keep their electricity bills from going beyond even these ridiculously high levels.

The UK, second after Germany in its rush to what they call “Net Zero,” has its own associated energy cost crisis. The basic policy prescription is the same as in Germany — massive building of wind and solar facilities and suppression of fossil fuels. Although consumer bills are capped by regulation, they went in October to a level approximately three times where they had been a year previously; and they were set to rise again in April, to some five times the previous level, although that may now be temporarily headed off by the UK’s own round of massive taxpayer handouts in the range of a hundred billion pounds or more.

Can we here in the USA learn anything from this folly before it is too late? The answer is, if it is up to our EPA, then no.

Readers may be interested in some back and forth on this topic that has recently occurred in the briefing in the case of Concerned Household Electricity Consumers Council v. EPA, pending in the Court of Appeals for the DC Circuit. CHECC is demanding that EPA reconsider the so-called Endangerment Finding of 2009, which is the bureaucratic edict by which those geniuses claimed to determine that CO2 and certain other “greenhouse gases” constitute a “danger” to human health and safety. The Endangerment Finding is the regulatory linchpin that underlies all U.S. government efforts to suppress fossil fuel infrastructure, whether power plants, pipelines, drilling, or anything else. You may recall that I am one of the lawyers for CHECC in this matter.

One of the things that you need to show to bring one of these cases is that the party you represent has what they call “standing.” That means that the party bringing the claim has or will suffer some concrete injury from the regulatory action in question. That’s why our client is a council consisting of electricity consumers. As we state in our Petition and in our Brief, “Each of CHECC’s members is a U.S. citizen and a member of a household that pays electricity bills.”

To demonstrate the effect on consumer electricity bills of the policy mix of wind and solar expansion plus fossil fuel suppression, we cite and describe the experience of Germany. Excerpt, from page 31 of the Brief:

In Europe, Germany began converting to renewables in 2010, and by 2015 30% of its electricity was from wind and solar. . . . The average German household’s electricity rate in 2021 was 32.16 cents per kWh, about triple the average U.S. rate. . . .

So what’s the answer to that, EPA? EPA filed its responsive Brief on December 20. From pages 20-21 of that Brief:

Petitioners’ extended discussion of electricity costs in Germany — involving a different country, market, currency, and regulatory regime — does not aid their efforts [to demonstrate standing]. . . . There is no effort to show that Petitioners or their members suffer “injury-in-fact” from electricity rates in Germany, or that any U.S. regulation (let alone the 2009 Finding or Denial) affected those rates.

That’s it. Hey, it’s a “different country”! Electricity prices in Germany don’t hurt you. Thus, says EPA, nobody has “standing” to challenge our Endangerment Finding.

I guess there’s just no way of knowing whether the hundreds of billions of dollars worth of damage being wreaked in Germany have anything to do with the forced energy transition. Anyway, it’s none of EPA’s business to try to figure that out. They are way too busy saving the planet.

Could the DC Circuit — supposedly one of our premier courts — fall for something this blindly ignorant? We shall see.

Read the full article here.

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Bryan A
January 8, 2023 10:58 pm

When asked about the potential for net zero in the U.S. energy sector, President Biden had this to say

Reply to  Bryan A
January 9, 2023 5:10 am

Maybe the smartest man he knows told him that (in a drug induced stupor).

January 8, 2023 11:55 pm

Germans have suffered consumer retail electricity prices of over 30 euro cents per kWh — close to triple average U.S. consumer rates.

Well that’s EUR 0.30 = AUD 0.46 and in South Australia I’m only paying 40.7c Aussie so I’m feeling so much better already. Mind you a 50% plus rise is expected over the next year or so but if they fix the warmening struggletown won’t need summer aircon. Always look on the bright side….de dum de dum..

Reply to  observa
January 9, 2023 1:41 am

I believe Albo and his troupe of clowns genuinely expected electricity prices to fall when they launched their war on coal.

Last edited 27 days ago by Eric Worrall
Reply to  Eric Worrall
January 9, 2023 11:21 am

But we know that NEVER happens. Must be a Law of Nature – costs never reduce. Ever!

Reply to  Eric Worrall
January 9, 2023 8:00 pm

The cost of production is only part of it.

Its a sort of auction for spot prices so they can be huge variations on same day, un related to production cost.
Thats the essential truth of generation game the politicians dont understand. of course the generators have cottoned on to closing their reliable base load generators which have flat pricing to join the renewables game to play the auction system

In my area looked graph of spot price auction market prices over last 24 hours

Some times the price was near zero, cents per MWhr, to peak at $75 per MWhr.

maybe a 1000 x price differential all in one day

Scarecrow Repair
Reply to  observa
January 9, 2023 8:43 am

In Northern California, my latest PG&E bill is at 38 cents, and this is the cheap time of the year.

Reply to  Scarecrow Repair
January 10, 2023 11:27 am

Thats retail price after delivery by local network.

Wholesale price at various points in grid can be much lower. Wholesale Spot prices are different again to longer term fixed contracts. Then there is grid costs of distribution over the high voltage AC network, which is often some cents per kWhr

Iain Reid
January 9, 2023 1:37 am

Mr Menton,

electrical grids have their own characteristics but those characteristics are common which ever the country.
One very simple characteristic is that it is irrelevant how much renewable generation you build there must also be in place approximately an equivalent capacity of a readily vailable and reliable generation source.
This is because there are times that renewables give next to nothing on a frequent basis so there must be other sources to supply the grid, often at very short notice. This capacity also has another function, as renewables are non controllable feeding a system that must be in supply and demand balance at all times, this reliable generation is essential to supplty the necessary balancing input.
To put it another way there must always be a dual system of generators in place wherever renewables are used in large amounts. This dual system is obviously more expensive than the pre renewable days when conventional generators could do the job alone. (Note the Levelised cost of Generation does not give a true cost as many other costs are not included)
You will hear that 100% renewable is achievable and possible, this is patently false and practically and technically can never happen.
If you do not have access to an experienced electrical power engineer on your team I suggest that you do find one?

Reply to  Iain Reid
January 9, 2023 4:59 am

And what if the goal isn’t “net zero”, but destruction of core infrastructure? Wouldn’t you want the grid balanced on a knife edge and the government being able to say who has power and who doesn’t?

Reply to  Iain Reid
January 9, 2023 6:42 am

Directionally true but not exactly.
The strategy clearly being employed by utilities is not so simple as 1GWh of dispatchable electricity generation (nuclear, fossil fuel) backing up 1GWh of intermittent electricity generation (solar PV, wind). It is more like 2 or 3 GWh of intermittent backed up by 0.5 to 0.75 GWh of dispatchable.
This is why curtailment costs keep increasing, for example. It is also why electricity prices are rising: regardless of LCOE for intermittent (misleading to start with), the above strategy shows that 1% cap factor for intermittent is not equivalent to 1% cap factor dispatchable – utilities are operating at more like 2% to 5% intermittent is equivalent to 1% dispatchable. So take LCOE and multiply by 2x to 5x to arrive at the real cost.
But the sad part is: the worst may be yet to come. The $390 billion in new subsidies for intermittent means the “spark spread” is very possibly going to go negative. Spark spread is the difference between the cost of fuel and the price of electricity generated from it. It means it will be money losing for dispatchables even with peak demand income.
At that point, either additional subsidies have to be paid to the dispatchables or else the blackouts will get even worse.

Dave Fair
Reply to  c1ue
January 9, 2023 10:39 am

Leftist (socialist) governments are good at creating shortages and high prices, while at the same time coming up with schemes to subsidize those (politically favored) experiencing shortages and high prices. Throughout the process your standard of living continues to spiral downward.

Citizens cannot see this happening in real time because there are no benchmarks for comparison to what would have been without the political intervention. Only when a government has so totally wrecked its economy such that there is little industrial production (everything made in China), resulting in massive unemployment and inflation, will the people take notice.

Politicians and their ideological masters are, with a compliant media, shifting blame from socialism to those evil capitalists. Additionally, pushing disruptive and divisive social justice causes distracts from recognition of true problems and effective ways to deal with them.

George Daddis
Reply to  c1ue
January 9, 2023 1:22 pm

Don’t forget the power of “and”.
Reference: Germany

Ron Long
January 9, 2023 1:43 am

Good luck to Francis Menton and the demonstration of “standing”. The EPA has been weaponized by radical environmentalists/anti-capitalists to destroy the standard of living, dressed up as saving the planet. I would hate to have to depend on the DC Circuit for anything rational, but the Supremes are next. Go for it.

Paul Johnson
Reply to  Ron Long
January 9, 2023 6:25 am

It would seem that soaring electricity prices in Germany would be reflected in higher costs for imported German goods, directly affecting American consumers.
It would also seem the Endangerment finding imposes many billions in costs without specific Congressional direction, violating the court’s stand on major regulations.

Reply to  Ron Long
January 9, 2023 10:04 am

Hasn’t Mark Steyn referred to the DC Circuit as a cesspool.?

George Daddis
Reply to  Retired_Engineer_Jim
January 9, 2023 1:30 pm

Mark unfortunately has recently suffered 2 heart attacks.
I hope he gets the satisfaction of actually having his day in court vs Michael Mann even WITH the corrupt DC judiciary!

Matt Kiro
January 9, 2023 3:13 am

There must be plenty of examples in the US by now of states investing too heavily in wind and solar and the associated prices doubling or more. Besides all the evidence that CO2 has minimal effect on temperature

Bryan A
Reply to  Matt Kiro
January 9, 2023 4:45 am

Commiefornia is heavy invested into the renewable scam (rooftop solar is REQUIRED on ALL new home construction) and as a result Commiefornia electricity prices are double the U.S. national average

Reply to  Bryan A
January 9, 2023 5:37 am

I haven’t lived in CA since 1991, but even back then electricity prices were nearly double what other saner areas were. At least then there were two operating nuclear power plants.

Reply to  Bryan A
January 9, 2023 10:05 am

It is, in fact, required, but there are many exceptions.

George Daddis
Reply to  Matt Kiro
January 9, 2023 1:25 pm

We don’t need no stinkin’ data!

Eric Vieira
January 9, 2023 4:45 am

“Could the DC Circuit — supposedly one of our premier courts — fall for something this blindly ignorant?”

I wouldn’t say “blindly”, but rather “intentionally” Go immediately into appeal and hope to
find a less “politically biased” judge (difficult in D.C.).

Ron Long
Reply to  Eric Vieira
January 9, 2023 5:58 am

You’re right on track, but not another Judge, it’s the SUPREMES (Stop! In the name of love)

Tom Halla
January 9, 2023 6:23 am

This is a “but we will do it differently” excuse, paralleling the excuses for why socialism will work in this case, despite being a failure every other time it has been tried.

David Dibbell
January 9, 2023 6:53 am

Let’s hope for favorable action in this case, or if not, at least an opportunity to air the core error of the EPA’s 2009 Endangerment Finding.

One of the reasons I used the January 2009 web article from NASA in my essay (linked below) was to show that the U.S. government knew perfectly well prior to the Obama administration that the atmosphere is best understood as the compressible working fluid of its own heat engine operation. NASA had already accumulated and published copious evidence from space in the form of the hourly CERES observations that the concept of the atmosphere as a passive radiative “trap” is incomplete and therefore misleading. It is a huge array of actively powered and highly variable emitter/reflector elements, as it ends up being “seen” from orbit.

EPA scientists and staff could have and should have recognized the inherent unsoundness of the attribution of claimed warming to GHG emissions. President Obama himself could have and should have put a stop to it and left it up to Congress.

But here we are.


Ultimately, better for Congress to amend the Clean Air Act to exclude claims of “greenhouse” warming as a class of harm at all, to strip any related regulatory power from EPA or any other executive agency. I realize this is a “stretch.” Let’s push for it anyway.

January 9, 2023 6:57 am

EPA logic Just because your neighbor dies after shooting himself in the head doesn’t mean you can use him as an example of what will happen if you shoot yourself in the head. Different gun, different head, therefore results may differ.

Reply to  ferdberple
January 9, 2023 11:10 am

Not to defend the EPA (or Germany), but I think in this case I probably would have said the same thing they did. Francis failed to demonstrate standing of his clients. Wouldn’t it be possible to make the identical point, while referring to CHECC members’ USA electricity bills instead of German ones?

January 9, 2023 7:01 am

Cut the earth’s population by 90% and you cut emissions. The part of the plan not talked about.

Once fossil fuels are outlawed all it takes is a cold snap with no wind or sun to solve the population crisis we were so worried about 60 years ago.

January 9, 2023 7:03 am

If the EPA and DC Circuit think German electricity prices are not relevant, can they please look at California where exactly the same thing happened thanks to a rush to build ineffective wind and solar.

January 9, 2023 8:19 am

California just hit the energy crash test dummy jackpot. Gas and electricity bills doubled and tripled overnight and 1/2 million Northern Californians are without power. This increase is blamed on ….. 1. California’s switch from coal to gas as the primary electricity generation fuel and 2. “A perfect storm of problems affecting only California”. Say what?

Beta Blocker
January 9, 2023 9:19 am

The only means for achieving Net Zero on anyone’s schedule is to view electricity conserved as being fully equivalent to electricity produced. Energy rationing in other words, done through directly or indirectly constraining the supply of energy, and through directly or indirectly raising its cost.

Here are some bits and pieces from the MC blog post’s comment section where I cover this topic in more detail:


Not Sure said: ” …… This is just insane. In what universe is something not used equivalent to something produced?”

My response to Not Sure:

The concept that electricity conserved is fully equivalent to electricity produced is now deeply embedded in the regulatory process for new power generation facilities and for mid-term and long-term power reliability planning.

As one example, in its post Climate Act regulatory decision making concerning the need for new gas-fired capacity, the New York State DAC cited one reason among several for not approving a recent permit application for an upgrade to a gas-fired plant in New York City was that NYISO already had a plan for implementing energy conservation measures which exceeded the new generation capacity that was being applied for.  

As another example, here in the US Northwest, the Northwest Power Planning and Conservation Council’s charter directs that electricity conserved is to be counted as fully equivalent to electricity produced for purposes of predicting future load demand and for assessing the future reliability of the grid. 

One way to reduce demand is to make electricity so expensive that energy consumers are incentivized to use less of it. Or even to stop using electricity altogether by moving out of the state, out of the region, or even out of the country.

Another way to reduce demand is to deliberately constrain the supply of electricity through regulatory actions which are being consciously weaponized for that very purpose, thus resulting in both higher prices and eventually, a recognition by energy consumers that they won’t be getting any more supply regardless of how high a price they are willing to pay.


SF jeff said: “And when energy not available is counted as energy conserved which is equal to energy produced, Net Zero achieved with little cost. And couldn’t counted energy not used greatly lower the cost energy used. Your utility bill is cheap because there was all these KWHs which you could have used if they had been available. Asking for a friend.”

My response to SF jeff:

FYI, as background to my answer, I’ve entertained a similar question from relatives who live in the bay area of California.

These relatives dismiss my concerns about the growing shortage of electricity in the western US as being unfounded; i.e., they believe that wind and solar can successfully replace the coal and gas-fired baseload generation resources now being retired within the schedule California’s politicians have announced.

What I’ve said to my bay area relatives is this:

The average German consumes roughly one-third as much electricity as does an American while paying roughly three times as much per unit of electricity consumed.

The Germans are apparently content to live with the constraints that their comparatively lower per-capita use of energy imposes on their economy and on their personal lifestyles.

Will Americans be similarly content in a decade if the unit price of the electricity they consume is two to three times higher than it is today, and they have no choice but to keep their utility bills down by consuming one-half or even one-third as much electricity as they consume today?

The climate activists are likely to be in control of the federal government indefinitely into the future. They will continue their policy of using environmental regulation as a means of forcing the early retirement of coal-fired and gas-fired power generation resources.

So we will have a fairly definitive answer to the question by the end of the decade.


Richard Greene said:

My simpleton version:

This Net Zero electricity has never been done before
There is no detailed plan for each utility, or a master plan for the nation, so
— We can’t determine engineering feasibility
— We can’t determine cost,
— We can’t determine timing and
we can’t predict the number of blackouts in the future.
However we can predict good sales of gasoline powered generators!
And we can play confuser games, make wild guesses based on assumptions we make, that are NOT based on any real-world experience, and then write an official sounding report, as self-appointed “experts”.

My response to Richard:

The Biden Administration owes the nation a detailed plan of action for achieving its Net Zero goals. Not only has the Biden Administration not offered such a plan, the advocates of Net Zero have not themselves demanded such a plan.

Why has there been no detailed plan of action? Because a detailed plan for Net Zero in the US must recognize that energy conservation must play by far the largest role in achieving anyone’s schedule for Net Zero, let alone Biden’s schedule. 

Is a detailed plan of action for Net Zero in the US which covers the necessary ground impossible to produce?  

I would say that with enough funding, development of such a plan could be done in phases which start out at a high level with an authorization charter which lays out the basic assumptions and the developmental ground rules for the plan, and which then develops each successive level of detail as each phase of the plan’s developmental process moves forward.

How much would it cost? My guess is that the first three of four phases could be done for a hundred million dollars or so. 

And, were it to be initially funded, what would happen over time is that the Net Zero study group and its staff would eventually morph into a Net Zero enforcement agency authorized to impose its plan of action on every power utility in the country.   

Because without such an enforcement agency, it would be impossible to coordinate all the activities of a Net Zero action plan, even one which relies on enforced energy conservation — a.k.a. energy rationing — to achieve its GHG reduction goals.

January 9, 2023 9:32 am

Funny or sad, you decide.

I called my 91 year old mother who lives in Mass, US this morning. They are having rather mild temperatures, while the US northern plains have been really cold. She lived in Mass as a child, and again since the 80s. She said she has never experienced such mid temperatures in January and it must be “climate change”.

SO I asked her how cold it was during the revolutionary war and how warm was it during the MWP, and Roman optimum. She understands those periods, so she got my point but she reads the Boston Globe and watches network news, so has been inundated with ACGW BS. I also asked her what she had seen on TV or read in the newspaper regarding fires in Aus. since it is their summer. She said “not a thing”, and of course I told her because there were no to report, and reporting a good fire year doesn’t benefit the narrative.

So after my rant, we got on to other things and mentioned how much her “energy supplier” had raised her rates over the last couple of years. She said 600%, although by the numbers she gave me, total bill was probably 300% including the service charge, so actual “energy” costs was probably less then 600%.

Now I asked her what she thinks it cost the “energy” company to shut down their nuclear generating facility, something that was already built and paid for, and that the electricity from it only cost operating and refueling expenses, and that the shutdown was mandated by the GOVERNMENT. She hemmed and hawed. During the discussion, I asked her why she blamed the “energy” company when whatever they were doing was required by the government, which she VOTED for, so stop blaming a business/monopoly for doing what she must have wanted because of who she voted for.

Finally, I brought up something my father had griped about in the 60s, the fact that VEPCO (Virginia electric and power co) would advertise on TV, and since they were a monopoly, and were allowed to make 12% on the GROSS, that advertising just raised the gross, so increasing the profit per share. The “energy” company doesn’t care how much rate payers pay, the higher the better! My dad also complained about the increase in the power bills due to VEPCO building nukes, BUT now Virginia has stable electricity rates due to those nukes. BUT their rates are soon to go through the roof as the current electricity monopoly builds state government (under 100% Democrat control) mandated offshore wind that will cost 5 or 6 BILLION dollars. She had no comment for that.

My mom is an intelligent person, but the only time she hears a differing view from her liberal surrounds is when I call or visit. Propaganda 24/7/365 has an effect.

January 9, 2023 11:05 am

The DC circuit has long been known as one of the most liberal. The odds of them accepting whatever the EPA stipulates without bothering to actually thinking about it, is high.

John V. Wright
January 9, 2023 2:35 pm

You may like to know, Francis, that Britain contributes 0.000012% of CO2 to the global atmosphere. And from there, we are heading for Net Zero.
It’s like being governed by children.
Good luck to CHECC with your battles against your local idiots.

January 9, 2023 4:56 pm

The fuel is free with unreliables but the capital cost of switching from large hub and spoke generation and distribution to spaghetti and meatballs is the killer-
on top of the storage required for dispatchability of course.

January 11, 2023 6:06 pm

I remember when Trump impeachment attempt was justified by another law about another impeachment in another constitutional system.
That wasn’t about physics, or engineering, or technology, just law. Laws and judicial decisions in other countries were deemed precedents to use against Trump.

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