Thursday, June 11, 2009

Rural electrics say climate bill treats them unfairly

Rural electric cooperatives get 80 percent of their power from coal, so they have big problems with the climate-change bill moving through the House. That's not the only reason; they think they would be shortchanged by the bill's allocation of carbon allowances, which reflects a compromise made by investor-owned utilities without the co-ops' input.

Former Rep. Glenn English, president of the National Rural Electric Cooperative Association, told the House Agriculture Committee today that the formula "creates winners and losers in different regions of the country." Those are mainly coal-dependent areas in the South and Midwest, a press release from NRECA said. English said the bill would give co-ops in Kentucky only 59 percent of what they deserve; the figure would be 61 percent in Illinois and Minnesota, 62 percent in Arkansas and 63 percent in Ohio.

English said the allowance should be based on the carbon content of the fuel burned by a utility, to "protect those consumers most exposed to the costs of achieving emissions reductions." Not only are the co-ops dependent on coal, English said their customers have lower than average household incomes: $61,416, almost $10,000 a year less than the national figure of $71,212. To read English's remarks, click here.

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