Climate Change Energy Cap and Trade Legislation Passes House
With a last-minute blitz by the Democratic leadership, the House passed the 1,500-page Waxman-Markey bill on a narrow 219-212 vote. Before debate started, a 309-page leadership amendment was added to the climate change and energy bill with a host of changes made to gain votes.
With the grass roots support of more than 370,000 electric co-op members, including 11,082 Illinois co-op members, electric co-op leaders were able to convince House leaders to make a few changes that addressed fairness and affordability issues.
“We still have concerns about the bill,” said National Rural Electric Cooperative Association (NRECA) President/CEO Glenn English. “Now, we look forward to working with members of the Senate in making additional changes in H.R. 2454 as it moves forward from the House of Representatives.”
Under the original language of the bill some utilities, through the proposed cap and trade system for carbon dioxide emissions, would have received more than their fair share. For example, NRECA found that Edison International subsidiary Southern California Edison Co. would receive 144 percent of its share of the 2012 cap; Public Service Electric and Gas Co. in New Jersey would receive 132 percent; and PG&E Corp. subsidiary Pacific Gas and Electric Co. in California, 181 percent.
By contrast, NRECA’s analysis found that cooperatives in Minnesota would receive only about 61 percent of their proportionate share of the cap in 2012, while co-op consumers in Kentucky would receive just 59 percent of their share of the cap. In Illinois it would be 61 percent.
To address this inequity a provision was inserted that no utility gets a “windfall” of more than 100 percent of its needs.
Even with these changes the legislation still contains affordability and other concerns for electric co-op members. Electric cooperative leaders firmly agree that any future bill that comes out of the U.S. Senate must be workable, affordable and flexible, which the House bill is not. Many changes still need to occur before cooperative members are well served by such a law.
Join the 370,000 co-op members who have asked their elected officials tough questions about our energy future. Go to www.ourenergy.coop to continue the dialogue.
Illinois Colleges Helping High School Dropouts
The number of adults in Illinois with less than a ninth-grade education is growing, and costing the state billions of dollars, the Illinois Community College Board warns. “The number of adults with less than a ninth-grade education has increased by seven percent since 2004,” said Guy Alongi, chairman of the Illinois Community College Board, citing figures from the 2008 U.S. Census. “This is an incredible jump, and a tremendous expense to the Illinois taxpayers.”
But Alongi says there is also a solution: Through the general education development (GED) program offered through Illinois community colleges, there is a way for these adults to earn the equivalency of a high school diploma.
“The Illinois Community College Board (ICCB) is making a concerted effort to promote the GED program and reach out to individuals who do not have a high school diploma,” Alongi announced.
Each high school dropout costs Illinois $221,000 over the course of their lifetime.
“This is a cost that is increasing, not declining,” said Dr. Karen Hunter Anderson, vice-president for adult education and instructional support at the ICCB. Anderson proudly reported that 15,734 individuals in Illinois earned a GED in 2008, giving these individuals the opportunity to further employment, training, and post-secondary education. But, Anderson noted, in comparison to the problem, there is still much to do.
For instance, the Shawnee Community College District, made up of Union, Pulaski, Alexander, Massac, and a portion of Jackson and Johnson counties, has 15,751 adults 16 years of age and older who are not currently enrolled in high school and listed as earning less than those with a high school diploma.
That is why Shawnee Community College is moving to expand GED programming from two nights per week to four nights, and making the alternative high school program an option for at-risk students.
For more information go to www.iccb.org/aegateway/student/faqs.html.
Coal 77 Percent Cleaner Now But More Investment Needed
The American Coalition for Clean Coal Electricity (ACCCE) released the findings of an Energy Ventures Analysis, Inc. report that finds nearly $100 billion has been spent to deploy clean coal technologies to reduce air emissions since 1990.
Steve Miller, President and CEO of ACCCE released the following statement. “Today’s (May 20) report conclusively shows that given realistic time frames technology can solve our environmental challenges without negatively impacting consumers and the economy. Industry is committed to eliminating emissions from coal-fueled power plants. One hundred billion dollars is a significant start and billions more will be spent in coming years as power plants begin deploying the next generation of clean coal technologies to address carbon and other emissions.”
The nearly $100 billion deployment in emission-reduction technologies has made today’s coal-based generating fleet 77 percent cleaner than it was in 1970, based on regulated emissions per unit of energy produced. At the same time, prices for making electricity from coal have remained stable at about a third of the cost of other base load fuels.
Youth to Washington Program Celebrates 50 years
Since 1964, the nation’s electric cooperatives have sponsored more than 40,000 high school juniors and seniors for visits to their U.S. congressional delegations, energy and grassroots government education sessions and sightseeing in Washington. This year 65 rural Illinois youth leaders joined 1,532 young leaders from across the country. They had the opportunity to visit with our nation’s leaders as they debate critical issues such as energy policy and health care. For more information about the program and how to join next year’s youth delegation, contact your local electric cooperative or go to www.youthtour.coop.
Co-op Growth Rate Exceeds Industry
Recent data from the U.S. Energy Information Administration (EIA) shows that the rate of consumer growth for electric distribution cooperatives over the past several months has continued a slowing trend that began in early 2007. Despite the slowdown, cooperatives continue to enjoy a higher growth rate than the rest of the utility industry.
Historically, cooperatives’ consumer growth has been between 2 percent and 2.5 percent per year. Since 2007, however, growth has been trending down, likely due to effects of the ongoing recession. Although still positive, the consumer growth rate at the end of February hovered around 1 percent versus 1.3 percent in August 2008, and is near its lowest level since data collection began in 2001.