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EPA Hears from Electric Co-ops at Carbon Rule Hearings

July 31, 2014

Colorado’s electric co-ops were well-represented at this week’s EPA public comment hearings on the agency’s proposed rules limiting carbon emissions from existing power plants. Representatives of Poudre Valley REA, Intermountain REA, Grand Valley Power, Holy Cross Energy, La Plata Electric Association, Tri-State, CREA and others were among the hundreds of people who testified during the two days of hearings at EPA’s Region 8 headquarters building in downtown Denver.

While some co-op reps argued that the rules were necessary to curb carbon emissions, most expressed concerns about the impacts of the rules on electricity reliability and affordability for rural consumers. Some co-op witnesses testified that the four EPA “building blocks” are not realistic and will not provide a path to lower carbon emissions. Others pointed out that the time frames set forth in the rules are too tight and cannot be met. Still others pointed out to the EPA that the rules essentially make the agency the “super PUC” that will oversee all utility operations and generation resource plans.

Colorado’s electric co-ops have made great strides in recent years diversifying their power supply portfolios with the inclusion of both utility-scale and distributed renewable generation sources. We have always promoted energy efficiency and helping our member-owners save money on their power bills. Our overall carbon emissions have come down and will continue to do so as older coal plants are retired in favor of inexpensive natural gas. Market forces and the demands of our member-owners will be the most effective tools for carbon reductions; we hope EPA will recognize this trend and tread lightly on electric co-ops as it finalizes the Clean Power Plan.

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