Life is all about
making choices. Americans want clean air, but we also need affordable
and reliable electricity to power the economy and make our lives more
Technology has made
it possible to clean up the air. At the same time, Americans are using
more and more electricity to power the many electrical devices that
are the signature of the new millennium.
Most Americans aren’t
aware that air quality has been steadily improving for the last 20
years. Drive by any power plant owned by Missouri’s electric
cooperatives today and you will be hard-pressed to determine whether the
plant is operating or not.
millions of dollars invested in pollution-control equipment is paying
off, clearing the air while still giving electric cooperative members
the benefits of affordable electricity.
Cooperative, Inc. (AECI) is a cooperative formed to generate electricity
for Missouri co-op members. As a cooperative, AECI has the option of
returning any margins it makes to the membership or reinvesting those
margins back into the cooperative.
Over the years the
AECI board has made the tough decision to set aside funds in a special
account to be used for meeting environmental challenges. In 2004, $62.4
million was transferred to this fund.
From 1994 to 2004
AECI spent $300 million to meet its environmental responsibilities.
Because of this investment, 90 percent of the sulfur dioxide and 80
percent of the nitrogen oxide emissions from its coal-fired power plants
Jim Jura, CEO at
AECI, says this fund is one factor that allows AECI to enjoy one of
the strongest financial positions in the industry, with a AA rating
from the investment community.
This financial strength,
in turn, has led to low, stable and predictable rates. In fact, wholesale
rates charged to electric cooperatives have changed little in the past
As AECI prepares
to build a new power plant, engineers are working on a design that
will make it one of the cleanest power plants in the nation.
our ability to keep rates low while cleaning up the air has been
remarkable, everyone in the industry expects any future improvements
in air quality to be much more difficult to achieve and increasingly
For example, technology
needed to remove small amounts of mercury released by power plants
does not exist. In our discussions with legislators about environmental
issues, we’ve asked them
to do two things:
• Let science,
not emotion, determine policy.
• Go slow on
new regulations so technology can catch up.
cooperatives remain committed to keeping the air clean while also keeping
your rates as low as possible. Thanks to today’s clean-coal
technology, we no longer have to choose between dirty
air and affordable energy.
Hart is executive
vice president of the Association of Missouri Electric Cooperatives.