Electric Rates Could Increase If Coal No Longer Used To Generate Electricity

Date 2013/11/6 9:19:16 | Topic: News

Grundy Electric Cooperative says members of electric cooperatives around the nation are flooding the Environmental Protection Agency with messages with a similar theme, “Don't raise our rates.”

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The Take Action Network campaign, launched by the Chief Executive Officer of the National Rural Electric Cooperative Association, Jo Ann Emerson, seeks to fight regulations pending at EPA that she says would cripple the affordable and reliable supply of electricity for electric cooperatives.

Consumers can send their own messages online at www.action.coop. They also may contact any electric cooperative.

Grundy Electric says the proposed regulations would make it impossible to generate electricity using coal---the fuel source for 80% of the electricity used by Missourians, including those served by electric cooperatives, and municipal and investor-owned utilities.

Grundy Electric also says it would raise rates, impacting families, small businesses, and farms struggling to make ends meet---and it would hamper efforts to attract new jobs to the state. Grundy Electric mentioned Governor Jay Nixon often cites low electric rates as one of Missouri's key assets for job creation.

The Chief Executive Officer of the Association of Missouri Electric Cooperatives, Barry Hart, said the association's latest survey shows ½ of its members are age 55 and older, with 35% over age 65. 1/3 of those senior members earn less than $25,000 a year, and 1/3 are retired and living on a fixed income. Hart said, on the other end of the spectrum, younger members just getting started with families and careers also earn less than $25,000 a year.

Hart said, these are the people least able to afford a rate increase of the magnitude the association sees coming if the proposed rules from EPA are enacted.

Already, more than $13,000 e-mails have been sent to EPA officials. Of those, nearly 3600 are from Missouri, the most of any state. National Rural Electric Cooperative association CEO Emerson said she hopes electric cooperative members will send 1 million messages by March.

Grundy Electric says electric cooperatives rely heavily on coal because it's the lowest-cost-source of generation---and has been since the late 1970s when Congress banned the use of natural gas for electric generation. Grundy Electric said, when the units were built, they were equipped with the best available technology for emission reduction, and since 1994, more than 1.4 billion more was spent to reduce emissions.

Grundy Electric noted---last year, more than 10% of members' electricity came from renewable resources, both hydropower and wind. Electric cooperatives today purchase electricity from 5--soon to be 6--wind farms. In addition, an energy efficiency program is credited with helping members use electricity more efficiently.

Association of of Missouri Electric Cooperatives' CEO, Barry Hart, said cooperatives invested in these resources because of concern for doing the right thing and not because a regulation required it. Hart said the association wants to see EPA follow these common sense approaches instead of regulations which would ban the most affordable fuel for power generation.




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