Duane Noland,President/CEO of the Association of Illinois Electric Cooperatives
Winds are Changing, Costs are Coming
Climate change legislation will increase bills $10 to $100
It’s a new era in Washington D.C. The Obama administration has a clear goal to transform the nation’s energy use and infrastructure. It’s one of the president’s main platforms.
While we’ve heard for months that climate change, or global warming, legislation was ramping up, the timeline for that change has accelerated phenomenally.
Until recently, we believed Congress would entertain energy change this year in concept only. Now, we are hearing from House Speaker Nancy Pelosi, as well as Senate Environment and Public Works Chairwoman Barbara Boxer, that they want to act on climate legislation in 2009. Chair of the House Energy and Commerce Committee Henry Waxman has indicated he wants to move a bill out of committee by Memorial Day. That’s less than 90 days away.
Time is running short. We are calling on cooperative members to help raise our concerns with Congress.
Our message is positive, but couched with concern. We are supportive of increased investment in reliable energy. We are supportive of trying to diversify our nation’s energy portfolio. But having said that, we are very concerned about energy costs and what that will do to the average family and our standard of living.
The most frequent avenue suggested to address the climate change issue is a carbon tax, or a second option, a carbon cap and trade policy.
The carbon tax would most likely be a fixed amount, charged to those emitting carbon and passed along to the consumer.
The second option, which among Congress appears to be the favored alternative, would grant permits to plants that produce carbon. In subsequent years, those who reduce emissions could sell their permits to those with increased emissions, therefore creating the cap and trade structure. Those without adequate permits would be fined.
Either choice will have significant cost implications to co-op members and all consumers at a time when our economy is weak and layoffs are increasing.
According to calculations in a study just completed by Carl D. Dufner, P.E. Senior Vice President of Engineering and Brian Adams, E.I.T. Electrical Engineer for the Association of Illinois Electric Cooperatives, emission control mandates could increase your electric bill each month between $10 and $100 if you use 1,000 kilowatt hours of electricity per month (see chart).
Our goal as an organization is to raise awareness of the real costs of climate legislation. We also need your help. The National Rural Electric Cooperative Association has drafted a letter asking Congress to keep affordable options in mind.
I would like for every reader of this commentary to go to the Our Energy, Our Future Web site and send an e-mail to your member of Congress and your U.S. Senators expressing your concerns about affordability.
Please access the site at www.ourenergy.coop and e-mail Congress.
Former Illinois State Senator Duane Noland is the President/CEO of the Association of Illinois Electric Cooperatives, Springfield.
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