- - Tuesday, August 5, 2014

President Obama is often faulted, rightly so, for not keeping his campaign promises. That can be a good thing, because one of the few pledges he has kept makes us poorer with every flip of the light switch.

Mr. Obama outlined his anti-carbon dioxide scheme to The San Francisco Chronicle in 2008: “Under my plan of a cap-and-trade system, electricity rates would necessarily skyrocket.” He explained, with a certain glee, that power plants that use an affordable fuel, such as coal or natural gas, will have to install expensive new equipment to comply with unattainable standards. “That will cost money,” he said. “They will pass that [cost] on to consumers.” It’s happening.

The Bureau of Labor Statistics reports that the price of electricity jumped to a record 14.3 cents per kilowatt-hour in June, compared to 12.4 cents per kilowatt-hour when he took office. That 1.9 cent jump may not sound like much, but it costs an average customer an extra $205 per year.

But Mr. Obama is not done yet with his transformation of the electric grid. The Environmental Protection Agency’s carbon-dioxide limitations for power plants announced in June have yet to be applied. Combined with EPA rules upheld by the Supreme Court in April, this will make 68 coal plants go dark. Curtailing the supply of electricity in this way means electricity prices will necessarily “skyrocket,” as Mr. Obama predicts.

Coal generates 39 percent of America’s electric power, natural gas 27 percent and nuclear 19 percent. Every other source of electricity amounts to little more than an asterisk on the charts of the U.S. Energy Information Administration. Hopelessly inefficient and expensive, solar panels and windmills struggle to contribute just 4 percent to the power grid, despite generous government subsidies.

Nearly twice as much electricity is generated through landfill gas and the burning of trash than through the use of solar panels, but Mr. Obama and his Hollywood and Manhattan pals aren’t interested in this important source of renewable energy. Garbage dumps stink, and who wants to tour one? This administration must protect its image, so it has invested the public treasure in fashionable solar startups, such as Solyndra and Abound Solar, which threw great photo-ops before going belly-up.

The price of presidential fashion falls hardest on the poor. In addition to the $205 a year extra in direct energy costs, the price of every item in the life chain necessarily rises. It costs more to run the air conditioner at the supermarket. It takes more money to keep the lights on at the shop and factory. It costs more to watch TV or read a book.

This is just the way this White House wants it. In his 2008 interview, Mr. Obama said that if a utility wants to build a coal-powered plant on his watch, it can. “It’s just that it will bankrupt them,” he said, “because they’re going to be charged a huge sum for all that greenhouse gas that’s being emitted.” Mr. Obama has demonstrated that he knows how to hobble an economy, but when America’s energy suppliers go bankrupt, so do the American people.