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Continued: What Obama's climate change proposal means for consumers and energy companies

  • Article by: JONATHAN FAHEY , AP Energy Writer
  • Last update: June 25, 2013 - 8:30 PM

Companies that install windows, insulation and heating and cooling systems stand to benefit from Obama's plan, which will give homeowners and businesses incentives to invest in energy-efficiency improvements. While the upfront costs can be high, the long-term savings can be significant.

Obama also wants the EPA to develop new fuel efficiency standards for heavy trucks, which are the second-largest source of greenhouse gas emissions in the transportation sector after cars. Obama has already implemented new fuel economy standards for cars through 2025.

Tighter fuel efficiency standards and higher gasoline and diesel prices over the last several years have cut sharply into U.S. oil consumption. Last year total U.S. consumption of petroleum products fell to 18.6 million barrels per day, the lowest level since 1997. Consumption is expected to fall further as newer fuel economy standards take effect.

The new standards for trucks would go into effect for vehicles made in 2018 and beyond. Engine-makers and parts suppliers that succeed in developing fuel-efficient technologies could benefit. While trucking companies may face higher equipment costs at first, their fuel bills will decline.

— ELECTRIC CUSTOMERS

Homeowners and businesses will likely pay more for electricity because the nation will be relying less on coal, which has historically been the cheapest way to produce electricity.

But more efficient homes and appliances are helping reduce energy consumption, which will likely offset at least some of the higher electricity cost.

Hugh Wynne, an analyst at Bernstein Research, estimates that a 20 percent nationwide reduction in carbon dioxide emissions would increase retail power prices by about 1 cent per kilowatt hour, or 9 percent. At current rates of electricity use, that would add $9 or so to an average American's monthly bill. Obama's plan seeks to reduce carbon dioxide emissions by 17 percent from their 2005 level by 2020.

Nick Akins, CEO of American Electric Power, one of the nation's largest utilities, said in an interview Tuesday that as long as utilities like his are given enough time to transition to a cleaner fleet of power plants, Obama's plan can be carried out "without a major impact to customers or the economy."

Follow Jonathan Fahey on Twitter at http://twitter.com/JonathanFahey .

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