UPDATE 3-U.S. climate bill costs low for households - EIA

Tue Aug 4, 2009 9:42pm BST

* Climate bill would raise household costs by $114 in 2020

* Gasoline prices would be up 20 cents a gallon in 2020

* Senate expected to unveil its own climate bill in Sept. (Adds figures from final EIA report, updates throughout)

By Ayesha Rascoe and Tom Doggett

WASHINGTON, Aug 4 (Reuters) - The climate change bill passed by the House of Representatives would raise annual energy costs for U.S. households around $100 in 10 years, far below some industry estimates, the Energy Information Administration said on Tuesday.

The EIA's final analysis of the House climate legislation found that the average U.S. family would pay $114 more in energy expenses in 2020, and $288 more in 2030, if it were enacted. Overall, from 2012 through 2030 household energy costs would average $83 more annually.

These figures are lower than those in an earlier draft of the report.

The bill requires energy companies to help consumers lower costs during the early years of the regulation, which would "mute the impact of higher energy prices for households until at least 2025," said Kay Smith, an EIA economist.

The projection from the EIA was in line with estimates made by the Congressional Budget Office and the Environmental Protection Agency, and contradict claims by energy and business trade groups that consumers would pay thousands of dollars more a year under the plan to fight global warming.

The EIA report also found that gasoline prices would be 20 cents a gallon higher in 2020 and 35 cents more in 2030.

"The evidence is now overwhelming that this clean energy legislation is both affordable and effective," said Representatives Henry Waxman and Edward Markey, who co-authored the climate bill.

Much of the debate on climate change legislation has centered on the possible economic impact of establishing a system limiting carbon emissions.

Democrats and other supporters of the legislation have promoted the plan as a way to bolster the lagging economy. Opponents have characterized the bill as a "job killer" that would unduly burden Americans with high energy costs.

Jeremy Symons, who oversees the National Wildlife Federation's climate change program, said the EIA's analysis shows that industry claims that efforts to fight global warming would significantly boost energy costs "are completely unfounded and simply scare tactics."

In addition to the basic case, the agency also examined the economic effect of the legislation under several other scenarios. In the case where companies are unable to significantly offset carbon emissions internationally and deployment of low carbon energy technology is stifled, energy costs are much higher, according to the report.

Russell Jones, senior economic advisor at the American Petroleum Institute, said he believed this more expensive scenario was more likely.

"I think people have to look at the underlying scenarios about what fuels will be available, whether offsets will be available ... and use that to guide them to what scenario is more realistic," Jones said.

The EIA reviewed the impact of the climate change bill at the request of the House Energy and Commerce Committee.

The House passed legislation in June to cut U.S. carbon emissions from utilities, manufacturers and others by 17 percent by 2020 and 83 percent by 2050, from 2005 levels.

The lower emission levels would be accomplished through a cap-and-trade system, where a U.S. company would be required to have a pollution permit to emit one ton of carbon dioxide and other greenhouse gas emissions each year.

Carbon permits are projected to cost $32 a metric ton in 2020 and $65 in 2030, the EIA said.

The U.S. Senate is expected to unveil its climate change bill in September, when lawmakers return from their summer recess. (Additional reporting by Timothy Gardner in New York; Editing by Walter Bagley)

Comments (0)
This discussion is now closed. We welcome comments on our articles for a limited period after their publication.