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Rural Missouri Magazine

Your shelter from the perfect storm

by Barry Hart

by Barry Hart

For much of this year we have been reporting to you about the challenges your electric cooperative is seeing as they strive to meet your energy needs. Those involved in this process often talk about a “perfect storm” that is forming.

The elements of this storm include the need for more power, rising costs for fuel to generate electricity, escalating prices for the materials needed to build power plants, expensive emissions control equipment and new federal regulations, all set against a background of debate on climate change.

There is good news. The growth we are experiencing means a boost for Missouri’s economy. But the downside is that these challenges we have been sharing with you mean it is getting harder and harder to meet your energy needs in an economical fashion.

Your electric cooperative has been investing in a diverse portfolio of generation resources. This is being done for the same reason savvy investors put their money into a mix of investment options. Our portfolio of generation resources includes renewable energy, clean-coal technology, hydropower and natural gas along with energy-efficiency programs that have postponed the need for additional power in the short term.

While we will use all the tools available to meet your energy needs, one part of our approach to providing members with reliable power is plans for a new power plant at Norborne. This project has tremendous community support because it will bring economic opportunity to a part of the state that desperately needs it. We believe it will be the cleanest coal-powered project ever built in Missouri.

This power plant is vital to the future of rural Missouri. It’s clear to all involved that demand for electricity is growing and it’s growing faster than previously thought.

Data shows that the energy requirements of the cooperatives served by Associated Electric will increase about 2 percent a year. That’s the equivalent of supplying about 30,000 more homes a year.

The number of electric cooperative members has increased nearly 90 percent since 1985. Through 2025, the total number of new members is forecast to grow another 45 percent.

You have counted on us to ensure there is an adequate supply of power when you need it. We can help you conserve energy, but we must also ensure you have all you really need.

At the same time we will be actively involved on your behalf with the climate change debate. There are people who don’t want any more power plants built that use coal for fuel. We believe this is a shortsighted philosophy, given the tremendous reserves of coal in the Unites States.

Coal is by far the most affordable way to generate electricity. Technology is in place and being used today to reduce emissions and protect health. We believe a mix of resources that includes coal offers the best option to help electric cooperative members weather this perfect storm.

Toward this end, Associated Electric is supporting the carbon capture project for City Utilities of Springfield that is being proposed by Sen. Bond. We are hopeful this experiment will develop a way to economically reduce carbon emissions and find a solution to climate change.

In addition, Missouri’s electric cooperatives are working with all of the electric co-ops in the United States to present to the U.S. Congress a reasonable plan for our country to deal with climate change.

Rest assured, we will communicate to you our effort and ask for your assistance in getting support from the Missouri Congressional delegation for our plan.

Hart is executive vice president of the Association of Missouri Electric Cooperatives.

E-mail Barry Hart

 

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Association of Missouri Electric Cooperatives

Rural Missouri
2722 E. McCarty Street
P.O. Box 1645 • Jefferson City, Mo. 65102
573-659-3423

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