change hits your wallet
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.
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.
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
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.
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
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.