National Press Club

Energy Exec Advocates for Cap on Carbon Emissions

May 7, 2009 | By Frank Maisano

Progress Energy CEO Bill Johnson said Congress should enact comprehensive energy policy which includes a cap on carbon emissions rather than simply impose a "one-size-fits-all" renewable electricity standard in a Newsmaker Thursday.

Johnson and former Arkansas Utility Commissioner Daryl Bassett addressed the current effort and debate in the House Energy and Commerce Committee focused on drafting legislation to regulate carbon dioxide emissions.

Johnson said Progress, which provides electricity to large parts of the Carolinas and Florida, supports state renewable standards that are based on scientific studies evaluating the states' actual renewable potential. But he expressed concerns about Washington policymakers dictating an approach that does not account for regional differences and increases costs for consumers with little environmental benefit or reduction in greenhouse gas emissions. Johnson suggested that the most effective climate change policy would be the one that is based on science and achieves the greatest reduction in emissions at the least cost to the customer.

Bassett, who leads the public interest group Empower Consumers, said increased costs would harm those who can least afford to pay, such as communities of color, seniors living on fixed incomes and those with incomes below the poverty line. He also noted potential adverse impacts on schools and hospitals. Bassett praised legislators for undertaking the difficult task of designing legislation to reduce emissions, but also asked them to be wary of the unintended consequences of wide-ranging energy policies.