Share |

Area REMCs alarmed by President Obama’s proposal to increase price of electricity

 In a speech Tuesday at Georgetown University, President Obama announced a broad new federal mandate to reduce greenhouse gas emissions from electric power plants. The President will instruct federal regulators to apply the Clean Air Act to carbon dioxide issued from power plants, effectively outlawing coal-burning facilities.

While the President’s proposal will impose a massive new climate tax upon all consumers, local rural electric cooperatives (Noble REMC, LaGrange County REMC and Steuben County REMC) are especially concerned because cooperatives are member-owned and share costs among fewer consumers.

Ultimately, electric cooperatives are about keeping electric bills affordable and providing communities the power they need to improve their quality of life.The President’s proposal will make electric power more expensive, causing families and businesses to sacrifice on top of all the other uncertainty in our national economy. Without question, electric bills will get bigger for the Americans who can least afford to pay them. If the President doesn’t see the importance of affordable electric power, then the members of cooperatives will help bring it to his attention.

National Rural Electric Cooperative Association (NRECA) CEO Jo Ann Emerson vowed to fight the Obama administration’s renewed effort to use the Clean Air Act to reduce emissions of carbon dioxide from power plants, calling the action “a regressive new climate tax.”

“Folks in rural communities and those with low or fixed incomes already spend more of their household budget on energy; this proposal would increase their burden,” Emerson said.

“The president’s proposal would be, in effect, a regressive new climate tax on America’s most economically vulnerable citizens,” Emerson said. “NRECA and America’s electric cooperatives will fight this proposal at the agency level and in the courts if necessary. If the president doesn’t recognize the need to keep electric bills affordable, we promise to bring it to his attention.” Approximately 42 million members receive electric power from over 900 rural electric cooperatives across the United States.

 “The plan the President has outlined is nothing more than the implementation of Cap and Trade through administrative action,” said Scott Bowers, vice president of Government Relations for Indiana Statewide Association of Rural Electric Cooperatives.

“Through our grassroots efforts in 2009, Indiana’s electric cooperatives successfully fought legislative enactment of this policy in Congress,” Bowers continued. “Indiana’s electric cooperatives stand with the majority of Indiana’s congressional delegation in support of reasonable and responsible environmental regulation. Unfortunately, the President’s proposal is neither reasonable nor responsible. We welcome the opportunity to work with our delegation to oppose the President’s proposal and its adverse impacts on energy affordability and reliability.”

In a letter written June 13, 2013 to President Obama, Senator Dan Coats, Senator Joe Donnelly and Representatives Susan Brooks, Larry Bucshon, Luke Messer, Todd Rokita, Marlin Stutzman, Jackie Walorski and Todd Young requested the president reject proposed EPA carbon dioxide standards, a key component of the proposal the president outlined in his speech Tuesday.

According to Bowers, the president’s climate tax fails to take into account electric cooperatives’ existing efforts to integrate renewable energy into our power portfolios. More than 13 percent of the power co-ops generate nationally comes from renewable sources. Co-ops are also at the forefront of energy efficiency initiatives, thereby reducing the need to build expensive new power plants.

LaGrange, Noble and Steuben REMC’s provide electricity to over 26,000 cooperative members throughout the four-county area in northeast Indiana.