Get ready to pay more for electricity — brought to you by your friends in government.
Already weary of high gas prices and 9.1 percent unemployment, many Americans are about to get another kick in the wallet thanks to large increases in their electricity bills.
From Alaska to Georgia and Wyoming to Florida, utilities are seeking permission to pass on hundreds of millions of dollars in new charges to customers to help upgrade aging infrastructure and build new or retrofitted power plants that comply with tougher environmental regulations, a Daily Beast review of regulatory filings has found.
The influx of requests, many still pending before state regulators, has left energy experts convinced that electricity prices will be on the rise for the foreseeable future as the industry struggles to modernize its aging infrastructure.
“They desperately need to upgrade,” says Bill Richardson, the former New Mexico governor and Clinton-era energy secretary who once famously called America a superpower with a Third World power grid. “You’re seeing rate hikes everywhere because this is a widespread, national problem.”
The pending rate hikes are bad news for poor and elderly Americans on tight budgets, as Congress and the White House begin making cuts to programs that help people cope with their utility bills. One program in particular, the Low Income Home Energy Assistance Program, was slashed during the budget negotiations earlier this year, and is slated for even deeper reductions this fall.
November 2012 cannot get here fast enough.