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COM M E NTARY Co-ops seek balance and common sense O


Chris Meyers General Manager, Oklahoma Association of Electric Cooperatives


ur Oklahoma Living editor received a nice letter recent- ly from reader and Lake Region Electric Co-op member Dianna Fuller, who wrote in response to the article “Managing Costs,” which appeared in the June issue of our magazine. Ms. Fuller wrote to express her con- cern that the environ-


ment—mainly air and water quality—not suffer at the expense of building cleaner electric-generation plants of the future.


First let me say that I appreciate Ms. Fuller taking time to write about her concerns. Second, there should be no confusion about positions electric cooperatives take in support of public policies on air quality, water quality and land resources.


Electric co-ops nationwide advocate common-sense public policies that balance environmental steward- ship with our need for future energy to power the nation’s economy. And there’s no mistaking the fact that our nation’s economy, while having recovered to some degree from a near Depression-era recession, is still fragile.


What our cooperatives seek is long-range, consis- tent and common-sense environmental policies that can ensure a clean environment without imposing se- vere economic penalties on electric co-op consumers. Signifi cant progress has been made in reducing air and water pollution by utilities nationwide. Across the


country, cooperatives have invested in new technolo- gies and improved waste-management techniques to improve air and water quality—in some instances going beyond state and federal law requirements. As stakeholders in our local communities and as util- ities that serve some of the most beautiful regions of the country—including right here in Oklahoma—elec tric co-ops are committed to preserving natural resources and minimizing impacts on the environment, all while meeting our obligation to provide reliable and afford- able electricity to our consumer-members.


Where do we stand on key environmental issues? ✓ Co-ops support sensible multi-emission legis- lation that can reduce power-plant emissions more quickly and economically than continued regula- tion under current law. We believe Congress should enact legislation that addresses these objectives while balanc ing this country’s energy, environmental and


economic needs; ✓ Co-ops believe that additional clean-water require- ments can meet environmental goals to enhance water quality through scientifically sound, cost-effective meth ods while allowing utilities as much fl exibility as


possible; ✓ Co-ops favor waste requirements that minimize economic impacts on our electric consumers, allow utilities as much fl exibility as possible, recognize the need to provide economical and reliable electric pow- er, and consider the regulatory effects on emerging global competitive electricity markets. Our electric co-ops seek balance and sense when it comes to matters involving environmental policies and regulations dealing with future energy needs. OL


“The Big Five” EPA regulations may impact electric co-ops E


J. Chris Cariker President,


Oklahoma Association of Electric Cooperatives


er-voltage distribution systems.


The National Rural Electric Cooperative Association (NRECA) carefully tracks potential legislation and/or regulatory rulemakings that could ultimately cause dramatic increases in costs to end-use consumers. Over the next fi ve months, I’d like to pass on to you information that the NRECA staff—along with our staff here at OAEC—believes you should know about the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) and its active regulatory agenda that could raise your cost for electricity. NRECA calls this list “The Big Five.” “The Big Five” consist of regulations impacting: 1) cooling water intake structures at generation plants;


4 OKLAHOMA LIVING


lectric cooperatives are dedicated to pro- viding affordable, reliable electric service. Nearly 65 percent of your local electric co-op’s oper- ating costs are for pur- chased power—power that is generated and transmit- ted via high-voltage elec- tric lines to local substa- tions, where it can then be distributed across local service areas through low-


2) coal -ash disposal from coal-fi red generation plants; 3) interstate transport of air pollutants; 4) hazardous air pollutants, including mercury; and, 5) reducing power-plant greenhouse-gas emissions. On April 20, 2011, EPA published proposed Clean


Water Act Section 316(b) rules addressing cooling water intake structures for existing generation facili- ties, and new units at existing generation facilities. This section of the Act requires that National Pollutant Dis- charge Elimination System (NPDES) permits for facili- ties with cooling-water intake structures ensure that the location, design, construction, and capacity of the structures refl ect the “best technology available” (BTA) to minimize harmful impacts on the environment. NRECA is pleased that the proposed rule does not require existing power plants with “once-through” cooling to retrofi t cooling towers when they do not make economic sense, and when other less expensive alternatives exist. EPA is not presuming that cooling towers are BTA; however, the proposed rule appears to allow for site-specifi c analysis and for permitting agencies to consider costs when making BTA rulings. NRECA believes that any new water discharge con- trols or clean-water requirements should seek to meet environmental goals to enhance water quality through scientifi cally sound, cost-effective methods while allow- ing utilities as much fl exibility as possible. OL


Oklahoma Association of Electric Cooperatives


Chris Meyers . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .General Manager J. Chris Cariker . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . President Glenn Propps . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .Vice-President Joe Harris . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .Secretary-Treasurer


Staff


Sid Sperry . . . . . . . . . . . . Director of PR & Communications sksperry@oaec.coop


Anna Politano . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .Managing Editor editor@ok-living.coop


Larry Skoch . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .Advertising Manager lskoch@ok-living.coop


Christy Johnson . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . Offi ce Manager cjohnson@oaec.coop


Emilia Buchanan . . . . . . . . . . . . Communications Assistant ebuchanan@oaec.coop


Hayley Imel . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . Intern intern@ok-living.coop


Editorial, Advertising and General Offi ces


P.O. Box 54309, Oklahoma City, OK 73154-1309 Phone (405) 478-1455 Oklahoma Living online: www.ok-living.coop


Subscriptions


$3.12 per year for rural electric cooperative members. $6.00 per year for non-members.


Cooperative Members: Report change of address to your local rural electric cooperative.


Non-Cooperative Members: Send address changes to Oklahoma Living, P.O. Box 54309, Oklahoma City, OK 73154-1309.


Oklahoma Living (ISSN 1064-8968), USPS 407-040, is published monthly for consumer-members of Oklahoma’s rural electric cooperatives by the Oklahoma Association of Electric Cooperatives, 2325 E. I-44 Service Road, P.O. Box 54309, Oklahoma City, OK 73154-1309.


Circulation this issue: 316,771. Periodical postage paid at Stillwater, Oklahoma.


The Oklahoma Association of Electric Cooperatives is a statewide service organization for the following electric cooperatives: Alfalfa, Arkansas Valley, Caddo, Canadian Valley, Central Rural, Choctaw, Cimarron, Cookson Hills, Cotton, East Central Oklahoma, Harmon, Indian, KAMO Power, Kay, Kiamichi, Kiwash, Lake Region, Northeast Oklahoma, Northfork, Northwestern, Oklahoma, Ozarks, People’s, Red River Valley, Rural, Southeastern, Southwest Rural, Tri-County, Verdigris Valley, and Western Farmers Electric Cooperative.


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