NRECA CEO Glenn English took strong exception to a May 14 story in The Washington Post, which he said "misstates the position" of co-ops on reducing carbon dioxide emissions.
"The issue isn't whether or not electric cooperatives will act to reduce carbon dioxide emissions, but rather how to achieve reductions with as little pain to both consumers and our economy as possible," English said.
"We believe technology offers the way of both reducing carbon levels while minimizing substantial rate increases," he added. "We must use all the tools available to reduce carbon dioxide emissions, not just the economic bludgeon of high rates as a draconian force to reduce consumption."
The article took issue with government loans for co-ops to build coal plants. English said carbon emissions programs must be based on technology that's realistic and achievable, noting a recent Electric Power Research Institute study concluded there is no single best solution to reducing emissions.
The institute emphasized increased energy efficiency; more renewable energy development; expansion of nuclear power; better coal plant efficiency; hybrid plug-in vehicles; carbon capture technologies; and distributed energy resources.
At East Kentucky Power Cooperative, Winchester, KY, spokesman Kevin Osbourn warned that eliminating federal assistance will raise costs, and any rate increases will hit those least able to afford them.
"A large percentage of those served by our member co-ops have incomes that fall below the federal poverty line. We have some member co-ops serving counties that are 20 to 30 percent below the federal poverty line," Osbourn said. "Many, many people are on fixed or low incomes."
"Our efforts are aimed at keeping power costs as low as possible for members while protecting the environment. We're building clean coal plants. We're adding renewable energy plants and promoting conservation. And we think that's the most reasonable, prudent course we can take," Osbourn said.
Power magazine editor-in-chief Robert Peltier also sided with clean coal technology. With a growing demand for electricity, Peltier told CNBC, "There are no green technologies that can keep up with this tremendous growth rate."
Pointing to the vast supply of coal, Peltier added, "We have 300 years worth of reserves in the ground that can provide energy security for this country. And to ignore it is, I think, folly."
Source: Michael W. Kahn, Electric Co-op Today
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