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COMMENTARY ARCHVES
   

MARCH COMMENTARY
by Share Brandt

We Need All Fuel Options for Energy

It’s easy to forget just how cold winter can get until you have a winter like 2014. The Weather Channel reports similar record breaking temperatures dating back to 1994 and 1999 in cities like Milwaukee, Detroit, and Chicago. It’s winters like these that cause us to get out the wool long johns and the super warm parka rated to 45 degrees below zero.

These articles of clothing usually linger in the back of my closet just waiting to see the light of day. I often consider cleaning them out when I do my semi-annual closet cleaning. Thank goodness I have not succumbed to tidy closets!

This year has also been a good reminder that we need choices of fuel to heat our homes in winter. Many folks relying on propane gas for heating fuel have been faced with supply shortages causing prices to skyrocket. If you filled your tank in early fall you may have paid as low as $1.45 per gallon. If you needed a refill recently it may have cost as much as $5.99 per gallon. That’s a big difference.

We saw similar alarm in volatile fuel supply when the Trans Canada natural gas pipeline exploded on January 26 in subzero conditions. Minnesota and Wisconsin utilities that rely on that pipeline were asking customers to lower thermostats to sixty degrees.

Volatility of supply and price are reasons why electric cooperatives support an “all-of-the-above” energy policy that includes coal for the United States. We have been down the road of an all-but-one energy strategy before. In the late 1970s there was concern that we would run out of natural gas supplies. Congress passed the Power Plant and Industrial Fuel Use Act of 1978, which prohibited burning natural gas to generate electricity. This coincided with a growing demand for reliable electricity so electric utilities were forced to choose either coal or nuclear power plants.

The cost of constructing nuclear plants in the late 1970s was skyrocketing. Then after the Three Mile Island plant accident construction of nuclear plants came to a standstill. This left coal as our only resource in the middle of a major power plant building cycle. As a result, we rely heavily on coal for low cost, reliable power from plants built then that are still reliable today.

Congress finally repealed the Fuel Use Act in 1987 and now this Administration is threatening to repeat the mistakes of the past by eliminating coal as a resource to produce electricity. Join us in telling the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) that we need coal to be part of our energy policy. Send your e-mail to the EPA at action.coop today.

 

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