Not-for-profit electric cooperatives work every day to provide affordable, reliable electricity to the more than 42 million Americans. Cullman Electric Cooperative has spent the past 78 years working together with our members to make life better in our community. One of the most important ways Cullman EC does this is by working to slow the rising cost of electricity and find ways to help you save on your electricity bill.
On Tuesday, June 3, 2014, a headline on page 4A of The Cullman Times read, “Obama: Power plant rule will shrink power prices.” The story, written by the Associated Press, detailed plans unveiled on Monday, June 2, 2014, by the White House and the Environmental Protection Agency to enact rules that would limit carbon dioxide emissions from power plants. President Obama and EPA administrator Gina McCarthy believe the proposed regulations will provide the incentive for America’s best and brightest minds to innovate new sources of electricity that will carry the United States toward a carbon-free energy future.
Electric cooperatives fully support innovation that leads to a better future, but it needs to be done in a way that fairly considers our members, who often times are already struggling to pay their monthly power bill.
Today, close to 40 percent of all the electricity generated in the United States comes from coal-burning power plants. In the southeastern United States, coal provides more than 60 percent of our electricity. Using the technology currently available, the proposed regulations would force most of the coal-burning power plants in the U.S. to shut down without a viable energy source to use in its place.
Reducing the supply of electricity creates more demand, and that means prices will increase, which is why Cullman Electric Cooperative is joined by more than 900 electric cooperatives across the United States in opposing the new EPA regulations.
Environmental regulations already share part of the blame for rising electricity costs. Electric co-ops and our respective power suppliers such as TVA have invested billions of dollars in equipment to reduce air pollution, but greenhouse gases pose a far more difficult challenge to capture. And while new technology is being tested, it just isn’t ready for prime time.
Equally troubling to comprehend, the EPA readily admits that cutting these emissions would not have much global impact on overall greenhouse gas levels.
The bottom line for Cullman Electric Cooperative is protecting the bottom line in the pocket book of our members and their families. These regulations unfairly and disproportionately affect members of electric cooperatives. They target regions of the U.S. most dependent on coal for electricity. And increasing electricity prices could endanger efforts to attract new businesses let alone retain current employers.
By harnessing America’s ingenuity, we can do better.
This debate should be about working together to develop a sustainable energy future. This debate should be about how the government supports utilities in a collective effort to develop technologies that can reduce greenhouse gases at a justifiable and reasonable pace.
That’s why electric cooperatives are pushing an XPRIZE initiative (http://www.xprize.org/prize/tri-state-carbon-xprize) to find technologies that actually can turn greenhouse gases into a useful resource with market value.
Creating a sustainable energy future requires us to make ambitious change, but the approach being taken by the White House and the EPA is wrong. A power plant that closes down will not emit greenhouse gases, but it also won’t incubate a new technology or give a bright young engineer an opportunity or ensure that its community continues to receive reliable, affordable electricity.
Americans count on affordable and reliable energy to power our communities, promote job and economic growth, and keep costs in line for the basic necessities in our family budgets. To help our communities thrive, we need Washington to recognize the potential harm of these regulations and find a different path to a better energy future. Let your voice be heard by visiting www.action.coop.