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COMMENTARY ARCHVES
   

JANUARY COMMENTARY
by Share Brandt

More than a Million

Electric co-op members, employees, and friends of cooperatives sent more than 1.1 million comments to the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) via www.action.coop. Comments reflected how not-for-profit, rural electric cooperatives will be affected by the EPA’s existing power plant proposal. Many people just like you and I took the time to send a message. Here is what some of our Wisconsin cooperative members had to say:

“I’m a member of my local not-for-profit electric cooperative and these proposed regulations have me really concerned. I am retired and an increase will be a difficult adjustment as we have just gone through an unusually long winter resulting in increased propane gas expenditures. I would expect that an Agency meant to help the people through wise proposals would already recognize the significant advances energy companies have already made and place no further burdens upon them and us. I am old enough to remember the quality of the environment in the 50's and to simply overlook the advancements of today suggests that the EPA is more concerned with advancing political agendas rather than sensible regulation.” —Ronald, Adams–Columbia Electric.

“The rates our rural members pay make it difficult for our area to survive. We face many challenges and believe that these CO2 regulations will cause harm to our fragile economy. Please reconsider your actions and help us by rescinding your proposal and staying with an "all of the above" approach to electric generation.” —Mike, Central Wisconsin Electric.

“The potential for these new regulations to dramatically raise energy prices and cost thousands of hard-working American jobs is too great. These policies also threaten to reduce the number of power plants faster than new ones can be built. This would certainly cause blackouts and pose a serious risk to home heating in the winter, which could result in human suffering and even deaths for those who cannot afford to pay their electric bills.” —Michael, Eau Claire Energy.

“I’m a member of my local not-for-profit electric cooperative and these proposed regulations have me really concerned.  We do not need added regulations affecting our current power system.  The use of coal is needed for the foreseeable future and making an abrupt change that essentially eliminates the use of coal as an electric generating option is irresponsible.” —Carl, Riverland Energy.

“I AM IN FAVOR of the proposed regulations, but it seems the website is designed to voice opposition only. Americans seem to forget the days when we could deal with short-term struggles in favor of long-term benefits. These days, there's an attitude that we should have the freedom to do whatever we want, while avoiding responsibility for anything. I have faith we will innovate our way through this issue. We just need the right incentives.” —Patrick, Adams–Columbia Electric.

The majority of comments expressed concern about affordable energy, jobs, and the economy. That stands to reason since electric co-ops serve in 27 Wisconsin counties with a poverty rate above the state rate of 12.5 percent. When electric rates increase, the burden disproportionally falls on rural America and co-op members. Rural communities in general have been slower to recover from the economic recession. Stay tuned next month for a brief summary of the more technical comments filed by Wisconsin’s Department of Natural Resources and Public Service Commission.

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