Striking a balance - Carolina Country

Striking a balance

by Michael E.C. Gery

Michael-Gery-2012Articles and editorials in Carolina Country concerning energy and environmental issues recently have prompted some cooperative members to send us their own comments on these issues.

This came from Laura Cotterman of Hillsborough, a member of Piedmont EMC.

I favor the EPA's proposed greenhouse gas regulations for existing power plants and, in fact, would like us to aim for even greater emissions reductions. The expense will be significantly smaller than the costs of dealing with sea level rise, food insecurity due to drought and temperature extremes, and loss of life and property due to more frequent violent storms and fire.

This came from Ken Jobe of Beaufort, a member of Carteret-Craven Electric Cooperative.

Broadly speaking it seems the desire to keep energy costs low, which I understand is a key co-op objective, dilutes energetic support to transition away from carbon fuels ... The climate cost, which citizens are paying, is not expressed in the cost of carbon fuels. I have recently joined Citizens Climate Lobby to address climate change in a manner which I believe is pro-business for the economy as well as for North Carolina electric cooperatives.

This came from Dennis Humenik of Arapahoe, a member of Tideland EMC.

Lacking the possibility of buying coal-burning electricity from cleaner sources than Duke, co-ops should impress on Duke to run the best environmentally sound coal plant that is clean from the time coal is delivered, to the time ash is carried away ... Electric co-op members in our state will not mind adding a few dollars to their electric bill knowing that will give them cleaner air to breathe, cleaner water to drink and less toxic food to eat.

The state's electric cooperatives have long encouraged an open dialogue among members on issues affecting their cooperatives and communities. Discussion on all generation resources and the environment has taken place and will continue in Carolina Country, co-op newsletters, community meetings, annual business meetings and elsewhere.

Members who follow the discussion know that North Carolina's cooperatives have a remarkably clean and diverse power supply portfolio. More than 70 percent of your co-op's power is generated by emissions-free nuclear, less carbon intensive natural gas and renewable energy facilities. Renewable energy sources are increasingly part of the mix. Electric cooperatives will continue to pursue next generation technology to improve the efficient use of electricity, provide for better and cleaner generation and upgrade the grid to deliver power without interruption to your homes and businesses. Electric cooperatives work hard to be your trusted energy advisor, to support your efforts to be energy-efficient and to conserve energy to lower your power bill.

While the cooperatives do not own coal-fueled power plants, coal is part of their fuel mix by way of purchased-power agreements with Duke Energy and other generators. Even so, coal comprises less than 15 percent, on average, of your co-op's power supply. Because of that, co-ops will be affected by the rising costs associated with coal-fired generation, and they are at the table where discussion takes place. To address all these needs, it is certain that we all will pay more for electricity.

Cooperatives are made up of many different kinds of people, and the job of a co-op's board and staff is to serve all of them equally. It's just a fact that many co-op members struggle to meet their expenses on a regular basis. A co-op's purpose is to balance all of these interests to help all members, regardless of their economic circumstances.

Overall, your cooperative strives to control costs for members while supporting communities and protecting the natural environment. Achieving this balance has long been part of your cooperative's mission.

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