The Electric Reliability Council of Texas has issued a study of the potential impact on electricity prices in Texas if a cap-and-trade system were imposed through federal legislation. The study assumes that a price for carbon (cost per ton of carbon dioxide emitted) from electric utilities would have to be between $40 to $60 in order to incentivize reductions in C02 emissions. At that price, the impact to consumers was estimated to be about $27 per month if no change in electrical usage occurs. (The equivalent of about 10 stops at Starbucks.) The system-wide effect was estimated to be about $10 billion dollars. ( A substantial sum of money, but perhaps small in comparison to the 2008 Texas "gross state product" of $1.245 trillion). The question is to what extent energy efficiency steps could reduce this cost impact by reducing the amount of electricity used. If one invested in compact florescent bulbs, there could be a net break even or savings over time to the average consumer. For industry, adapting to higher electricity costs is not as simple. Some industries may be able to find inexpensive means of reducing electrical usage, others may find that it is very difficult. Thus, the impact will vary across industries.
The other question to keep in mind is that Congress may impose price caps or "safety valves" to keep the price of carbon from reaching $40 to $60, so this level of impact may never occur, at least over the next five to ten years.
The conclusions of the study were as follows: