Friday, October 30, 2009

Rural electrics fight cap-and-trade climate bill

Tens of thousands of oversized yellow postcards from rural utility customers, expressing concern regarding the effect of cap-and-trade legislation on electricity prices, arrived in the offices of senators just in time for the Senate introduction of the climate-change bill. The postcard campaign, organized by the National Rural Electric Cooperative Association, was designed to persuade senators of the importance of climate change legislation to rural electric cooperative customer-members, Bill Lambrecht of the St. Louis Post-Dispatch reports. Co-ops get 80 percent of their electricity by burning coal.

Barry Hart, right, CEO of the Association of Missouri Electric Cooperatives, delivered some of the postcards during his trip to Washington, during which he testified before the Senate Environment and Public Works Committee. Hart said co-op customers in states like Missouri, whicht depend highly on coal, will be face greater rate increases than previous forecasts indicate. He said increases would average "between 12 percent and 26 percent starting in 2012 with the potential to reach as much as 50 percent should utilities be forced to switch from coal to natural gas for a significant portion of their fuel." (Read the entire testimony here)

Tougher emissions limits in the Senate bill will make things harder on co-op members, Hart told the Post-Dispatch, but he said he would be heartened if the bill didn't include specific amounts of emission credits that would be awarded. He tells Lambrect: "That would mean that consumers will be at the table and have a chance to make electricity affordable." (Read more)

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