Ellsworth area electric co-op urges state to go slow on climate changeClimate change vs. electric bills was a prime topic at Pierce Pepin Cooperative Services’ annual meeting.
Co-op urges state to go slow on climate change
By Bill Kirk
Climate change vs. electric bills was a prime topic at Pierce Pepin Cooperative Services’ annual meeting late last month.
Both Board Chairman Ron Johnson and President and CEO Larry Dokkestul discussed the issue in their reports before introducing Beata Kalies, director of government relations for the Wisconsin Electric Co-op Association, who addressed the matter.
Johnson said Cap-in-Trade has come into play with carbon and other emissions, and a carbon tax will affect the electric industry. He suggested members have two options in response: conservation, already practiced, and reducing the need for more power plants; and contacts with legislators to express concerns about costs.
The intent isn’t to jeopardize clean air and related technology, he said.
“Do it in steps, don’t try to cure it all in one year,” Johnson said.
Dokkestul promoted the “Our Energy Our Future” campaign, organized by the National Rural Electric Co-op Association. A related video was shown and he said more information is available at www.ourenergy.coop.
In 1990, a goal of reducing carbon dioxide emissions by 80 percent between then and 2050 was established, Kalies said. Cap-in-Trade is one of the programs being touted. It caps credits through Wall Street auctions.
“It doesn’t really cut emissions, but it creates revenues,” she said, indicating the less credits available, the higher the cost of power. A total of $645 billion for this program has been budgeted over the next six years, she added, contending it shouldn’t be in the budget at all.
Another measure is a proposed carbon tax of $20 per ton, she said. That tax would cost most patrons $16 per month, she found (Dokkestul had more specific figures for Pierce Pepin of $300 per year for average residential customers and up to $2,400 yearly for average businesses).
Additionally, there’s 100 percent auctioning of permits, she said. Like any auction, the more an item is in demand, the more bidders are willing to pay, meaning utilities would overall pay more for these permits.
Kalies said the programs aren’t equitable. She indicated 60 percent of the electricity produced in Wisconsin comes from coal, while California uses just two percent, yet the plans are driven by officials from the latter state.
Read more in the print version of the Herald April 8.