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Vol. 64 Number 10


News orthwestern Electric August 2013


‘All-of-the-Above’ energy strategy needed ■ Climate-change plan will harm rural America


I


n late June, President Obama announced a series of actions to combat climate change. For electric co-ops, the outline ham- mered one point that has us ready to do battle: reducing the volume of greenhouse gases—primarily carbon dioxide—emitted from fossil fuel- burning power plants, both new and existing. To that end, the President has instructed the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) to regulate carbon emissions under the federal Clean Air Act, a law last updated in 1990 that contains not a single line mentioning carbon dioxide. Under the sweeping mandate set forth, the White House risks shuttering the nation’s entire coal fleet—roughly 37 percent of generation capacity— and driving up electric bills for all consumers.


Closed for holiday


Northwestern Electric will close on Monday, Sept. 2, in observance of Labor Day.


If you have an emergency, call:


1-877-9NOPOWER 877.966.7693


NRECA and its member coopera- tives oppose using the Clean Air Act to regulate greenhouse gases and will engage the administration at every turn to inject common sense back into policy discussions. Whether you agree with the President’s under- lying concerns about global warming or not, the basic fact is that short of closing all coal-fired power plants there are no economically viable tools currently available to accom- plish his goals.


For several years, electric co-ops have warned the Obama administra- tion that employing the Clean Air Act to curb power plant carbon di- oxide emissions is badly misguided. Without significant modifications, co-ops feel the President’s proposal will jack up electric bills for those who can least afford it—our consum- er-members.


Rural residents already spend a greater chunk of their income on energy than those in urban commu- nities. One of our first missions as not-for-profit electric co-ops remains keeping rates affordable―an impor- tant consideration since household income in our service territories runs 11 percent lower than the national average and one person in six served by a co-op lives in poverty. Forcing electric co-ops to shut down coal plants and switch to other fuels amounts to levying a punitive, regressive tax on rural America.


History shows us this bad idea was tried once before, with bad results.


In the late 1970s policy- makers were concerned the U.S. would soon run out of natural gas, the main energy source for heat- ing and cooking in many parts of our land. Congress’s solution to the issue was passing the ill-conceived Pow- erplant and Industrial Fuel Use Act of 1978, which prohibited burning natural gas to generate electricity. To meet growing demand for power, utilities were forced to choose either coal or nuclear power facilities. For electric co-ops the timing


Jo Ann Emerson NRECA CEO


couldn’t have been worse. The mea- sure kicked in just as generation and transmission co-ops (G&Ts) were in the middle of a major power plant building cycle. In the end, many found themselves shifting generation strategies midstream―an expensive proposition—and either partnering with investor-owned utilities in nu- clear reactors or constructing state- of-the-art coal stations equipped with scrubbers and other pollution control technologies.


Thanks to the Fuel Use Act, power costs soared, and with them, coop- Continued on page 3.


Inside


Firemen’s banquet........2 Recipe............................3 Free hot dog feed .........3 Capital credits...............4


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