The coal provisions of the Power Act appear to be designed to substantially increase the cost of coal and other forms of fossil fuel-based energy in the immediate near term, and, given the limits of available and anticipated carbon capture technology, to close down coal-fired power plants ten years from now.
Title I, Subtitle C, titled "Coal" has three key provisions. First, in Section 1415, it directs the Department of Energy to levy a $2 billion tax on "all fossil fuel-based electricity sold to electric consumers." In other words, all electricity is taxed unless it is generated by nuclear, wind, solar, or hydroelectric plants. The tax will be paid by utilities but the bill is designed to allow utilities to pass-through the cost to consumers.
Second, in Section 1441, the Power Act amends the Clean Air Act to set strict performance standards on coal-generated power plants, mandating CO2 emission reductions of either 50% or 65%, based on the date the plant is "permitted," beginning no later than January 1, 2020. Given the state of carbon capture and sequestration technology, this will require coal-based electricity generating plants to reduce production or shut down, thereby reducing energy supplies and increasing consumer costs.
Third, the Power Act generally confers EPA with extremely broad powers to regulate coal use in the United States. Notably, the Power Act, in Section 1413, creates a "Council" to hand out federal funds to "support projects to accelerate the commercial availability" of carbon capture technology. This "Council" will be a political body. Its members must include, among others, "nonprofit organizations", "consumer groups", and unions. Notably, private companies are not eligible for federal research funding, but "nonprofit organizations" are.