National Rural Electric Cooperative Association (NRECA) CEO Jo Ann Emerson made the following statement regarding the announcement from the Environmental Protection Agency that it has extended the comment period for the proposed Clean Power Plan by 45 days.
“These proposed regulations are some of the most complex and far-reaching ever written. Electric cooperatives welcome the extension of the comment period to allow for more analysis of their impact on affordability and reliability,” said Emerson. “This extension provides electric co-ops the opportunity to offer more informed and specific feedback to the agency before announcement of the final rule.”
The EPA has extended the public comment period on the proposed plan, originally set to expire Oct. 15, until Dec. 15. EPA’s rule sets a carbon dioxide emissions reduction goal for each state that would lower national levels of the greenhouse gas by 30 percent by 2030 when compared to 2005 levels. States are expected to develop emission reductions plans subject to EPA approval. Compliance would begin in 2020, with a final compliance target set for 2030. Alabama’s electric cooperatives have been speaking out against the plan for the past several months, most recently at public hearings in Atlanta.
AREA Vice President for Public Affairs Sean Strickler attended the hearings. along with public officials including Congressman Bradley Byrne, Attorney General Luther Strange, Public Service Commissioner Jeremy Oden and Blaine Galliher, legislative director for Gov. Robert Bentley. A delegation from Central Alabama Electric Cooperative attended the hearings.
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“The big concern is affordability and especially reliability,” Strickler said. “The people we serve and that our members serve represent the least among us. They represent the people who are out there working 40-plus hours a week, just trying to get by… Sometimes the people in the state are the best people to take care of their own environment.
“Rural electric cooperatives are member owned,” he added. “They’re good stewards in their own community. What we need to tell the EPA is that we’re doing the best we possibly can to provide affordable, reliable power, and coal has got to be part of that mix. You can’t take away one of the most reliable opportunities for inexpensive reliable power. Right now around two-thirds of the power that most of our coop members receive is from coal. Imagine what it would be like if you took the biggest block of their power and replaced it with something more expensive. These people just won’t be able to afford it.”
Congressman Byrne and Attorney General Strange speak about the EPA from AREA on Vimeo.