Thursday, September 17, 2015

House Republicans express concern about Clean Power plan's effect on rural development

The Obama administration's Clean Power plan that calls for a 32 percent reduction in greenhouse gases by 2030 "got several mentions in a House Agriculture Committee hearing on rural development yesterday as lawmakers expressed concern that the regulations could burden rural electric cooperatives," Tiffany Stecker reports for Environment & Energy Daily.

The U.S. Department of Agriculture "has about $4.5 billion invested in building coal-fired power plants that could be affected by the Obama administration's curbs on carbon emissions," said Brandon McBride, the head of the agency's rural utilities agency, Stecker writes. He told the committee, "At this time, it's unclear exactly what the impacts will be and how state plans will be developed." He said it would be unclear how the plan would affect states until after they submitted their plans to the Environmental Protection Agency.

"The National Rural Electric Cooperative Association released a report in July finding that rural economies are more sensitive to rate fluctuations because they serve energy-intensive industries like agriculture and manufacturing," Stecker writes. 

Rep. Glenn Thompson (R-Pa.) "said he had 'significant concerns' about the impact of the rule in his rural western Pennsylvania district," Stecker writes. He said that rural cooperatives "provide some of the most affordable kilowatt-hour rates; they use a very diverse portfolio; they need to be able to do that." Rep. Trent Kelly (R-Miss.) said "rural customers 'a lot of times . . . don't have the access to technology or don't have the income or don't have the education in order to comply with these regulations.'" (Read more)

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