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co-op issues


to enforce the rules of the game but even the umps can make a bad call.


Co-ops call foul on latest Co2 A


vid sports fans understand the frustration when an umpire makes a bad decision. Sure, they're there


Kiamichi Electric Cooperative officials say they share that same feeling with what's going on with government regulation regarding electric utilities and electricity production. For power suppliers such as Western Farmers Electric Cooperative (WFEC), and Associated Electric, who sell their electricity to Kiamichi Electric Cooperative and other co-ops, the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) is now the umpire enforcing the rules.


"At Kiamichi Electric, we’re committed to keeping electric bills affordable for our members, so you can understand why we get upset when we see EPA folks make bad calls that put pressure on how much our members pay for power," said Jim Jackson, Kiamichi Electric CEO.


Over the past two years, Congress debated, but never passed, a comprehensive climate change bill. Into this void, the EPA stepped forward and fielded new regulations. Currently, 35 states have established standards to beef up renewable energy and market-based programs to cap carbon emissions from power plants within their borders. Numerous power plants also stepped up to clean up units, modernize and burn more natural gas.


Despite these efforts, President Obama is pushing for action. In his “Climate Action Plan” released June 25, Obama said he would issue a memorandum directing the EPA to set carbon emissions standards for both new and existing power plants.


The president wants the EPA to propose a carbon standard for existing power plants by June 2014 and a final standard in 2015. EPA is expected to draft carbon regulations for new generating units by September.


Without identifying a specific carbon reduction target, Obama said that carbon standards must be installed to halt power sector pollution.


“The idea of setting higher pollution standards is not new. It’s just time for Washington to catch up with the rest of the country, and that’s what we intend to do,” Obama said during his speech on regulating greenhouse gases at Georgetown University.


"If the president doesn’t recognize the need to keep electric bills affordable, we promise to bring it to his attention.”


Jo Ann Emerson, CEO of the National Rural Electric Cooperative Association (NRECA) said electric co-ops will fight the Obama administration’s renewed effort to use the Clean Air Act to reduce emissions of carbon dioxide from power plants.


“The president’s proposal would be, in effect, a regressive new climate tax on America’s most economically vulnerable citizens,” Emerson said. “NRECA and America’s electric cooperatives will fight this proposal at the agency level and in the courts if necessary. If the president doesn’t recognize the need to keep electric bills affordable, we promise to bring it to his attention.”


Electric co-ops support common- sense, balanced environmental policies that protect health and the environment and maintaining affordable rates. Co-ops also advocate a mix of generation fuels so that members are protected when one fuel source—natural gas, for example— experiences volatile price swings.


regulations New EPA regulations will restrict generation fuel options and raise prices for members


Co-op owned generation and transmission facilities such as WFEC in Anadarko, provide 41 percent of the electricity required by electric cooperatives nationwide; 80 percent of this is coal fired. At WFEC, a mix of hydro, natural gas, coal and wind power is used to generate electricity. Natural gas is currently the least expensive generating fuel, however, that hasn't always been the case.


The new regulations would require coal fire plants to reduce their emissions by 50 percent. Electric utilities contend that compliance is impossible without significant and costly advances in technology that have yet to be developed, much less tested.


—JO ANN EMERSON, CEO, NRECA.


"Basically, they would like to regulate coal out of the mix completely," Jackson explained. "This would


cause prices to go up, and the hardest hit would be our low income co-op members. We can't accept that."


Kiamichi Electric will update members on regulatory and legislative issues through the co-op newsletter, the Light Post. In the meantime, members are urged to send letters to the EPA and federal legislators protesting these regulations. Find contact information for your elected officials at www.oaec.coop.


Light Post | july-august 2013 | 7


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