Stand with us to Keep Electricity Affordable for All
On September 20, the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) issued new proposed rules limiting the carbon dioxide (CO2) emissions of new coal- and natural gas-based power plants. The proposed rule sets stringent limits on CO2 emissions from coal plants in particular, essentially requiring the use “carbon capture and sequestration” technology or eliminating coal as a potential fuel source for future plants.
Since CCS is not commercially viable, the“all-of-the above” energy strategy to has changed to one that effectively prevents construction of new coal-based generation.
Electric cooperatives strongly oppose this shift and believe the proposed rule should be withdrawn. Co-ops support using a diverse fuel mix including renewables, natural gas, nuclear and coal to generate electricity, and support using demand response and energy efficiency to use that energy wisely and keep costs affordable. Co-ops also continue to deploy new technologies and are researching even more cutting edge technologies to meet the energy needs of the future.
We’re asking you to stand with us as we fight to keep electric bills affordable. Raise your voice through the Cooperative Action Network at www.action.coop. Tell the EPA we need an all-of-the-above energy strategy.
We have a goal of reaching 1 million emails being sent to the EPA to state our concerns, will you help us?
Just the Facts
CCS Technology not Commercially Viable, Estimated to be Prohibitively Expensive
Electric utilities and others have been researching technologies to reduce or capture CO2 emissions from coal-based power plants for years, and have experimented with CCS technology specifically in the lab and at low-level pilot projects. However, the technology has never been used at a commercial scale at a power plant, over a prolonged period to demonstrate its viability or cost. According to a 2012 Congressional Budget Office report, engineers have estimated that CCS technology would increase the cost of producing electricity from coal-based plants by 75 percent.
Already worried about making ends meet, many Americans cannot afford to pay for the significant increases in their electric bills. Consumers remain laser-focused on the economy, as we ever-so-slowly recover from the Great Recession. The latest Gallup polls show concern for the economy and unemployment hovering near 40 percent. (http://bit.ly/1aI6onP)
Coal: A Plentiful, Domestic Energy Source
The switch to an all-but-one energy approach would limit Americans access to a plentiful and affordable resource, mortgaging future generations and unnecessarily constraining the American economy.
According to the U.S. Energy Information Agency (EIA), the United States has 236 years remaining of recoverable coal reserves (http://1.usa.gov/13XA0Iv). Coal is also the most used energy source in the United States, accounting for 37 percent of all electricity generated in 2012, according to EIA.
Historically prices for coal have remained affordable and relatively stable. On the other hand, natural gas prices have shown incredible volatility over time (like many other commodities). Since the year 2000, according to EIA, the monthly average of natural gas prices has varied from a low of $1.89 per million BTU to a high of $10.79 per million BTU. And that is only the average “wellhead” price … not the final price to households or power plants using that fuel.
History Repeats: 1970’s Mandate: No Natural Gas … 2013 Mandate: No Coal?
We’ve seen this all-but-one game before in our country’s recent history. Concerned about natural gas supplies, Congress passed the ill-conceived Power Plant and Industrial Fuel Use Act of 1978, which prohibited burning natural gas to generate electricity. To meet growing demand for baseload power, utilities effectively were forced to choose either coal or nuclear plants. The cost of constructing nuclear plants in the late 1970s was skyrocketing, and with the Three Mile Island plant accident construction of nuclear plants came to a standstill, leaving coal as the only baseload resource.
For co-ops the timing was especially challenging. The measure was implemented just as G&Ts were in the middle of a major power plant building cycle while the Congress was prohibiting one choice of resource to meet growing demand for electricity. As a result, co-ops invested heavily in coal-based generating plants in the late 1970s and early 1980s.
It took nine years, but Congress finally repealed its mistake in 1987. There is no reason to repeat the mistakes of the past, but that appears exactly what we are about to do.