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Rural Missouri Magazine

Climate change hits your wallet

by Barry Hart

by Barry Hart

Those of us who keep an eye on what is happening in Congress have noticed a change in the debate on global warming. The focus today is not on whether climate change is a problem, but what should be done about it and when.

This debate comes at a time when the entire electric utility industry faces rate increases the likes of which we have not seen in a generation.

According to the U.S. Department of Energy, the country will see a 40 percent increase in electricity demand by 2030. At the same time, a Standard & Poor’s report says that costs for new power plants have increased 50 percent in the last three years. Experts expect the price escalation to continue, meaning those new sources of energy will cost more and more.

Your electric cooperative is concerned about what is happening in Congress because decisions made there in the not-too-distant future could become a “double whammy” on your electric bill. With rates already destined to increase, many of the proposals being debated in Washington, D.C., could add millions in environmental costs to suppliers of electricity.

And ultimately, those costs will trickle down to you, the member-owner and ratepayer. Our concern is for those who are least able to pay, and what these proposals could do to an economy that is already on shaky ground.

Of even more concern is a small but vocal group of well-intentioned people who think huge increases in the price of electricity are needed to force people into conserving energy as a way to reduce greenhouse gas emissions. This is where we draw a line in the sand.

We cannot allow the view to prevail that dramatically higher rates simply for the sake of higher rates would be the right way to achieve environmental policy goals. We simply do not accept the notion that many of our neighbors won’t be able to afford to operate their ground-source heat pumps, milking equipment, grain dryers, small businesses or ethanol plants because of astronomically higher rates.

We insist the nation can reduce carbon emissions while maintaining affordable power bills. On page 12 of this issue, you can read about our commitment to the environment and the millions already spent to clean up emissions at the coal-fired power plants your cooperative owns.

These measures, combined with our support of wind power and energy efficiency, are working. Future goals can be met provided any environmental legislation also includes support for research into new, affordable, clean-coal technologies. This is important because the technology to reduce carbon emissions does not yet exist.

We must close the gap between imaginary quick-fix solutions and realistic options to reduce carbon dioxide emissions. And policymakers need to be honest with the public about the true cost of any proposal that advances.

Good legislation must balance the electric bills of consumers, the health of the economy and the needs of the environment. We will work with Congress to find sound environmental solutions based on research and development.

Rest assured, we will do everything we can as your advocate in Washington, D.C., to make sure new legislation does not wreck the economy or your wallet.

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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