Rural Electric Cooperatives: Efficiency measures more important than allowance allocations

Here’s a  stunner from Climate Wire (subs. req’d) today:

Rural electric cooperatives, which represent many small, coal-dependent utilities in the Midwest and raised a ruckus in the House debate, are eligible for a portion of allowances under the new draft.

But at a conference last week, the head of the National Rural Electric Cooperative Association, Glenn English, said “the basis for a deal” on climate would not revolve so much around allowances, but around whether people in coal-dependent regions would get enough help with efficiency retrofits on homes so they can manage potential electricity spikes.

Wow — somebody who would rather have smart policies than more allowances.

Interestingly, Boxer gave the Co-ops a real piece of the action:

Small Electricity Local Distribution Companies: For further consumer protection, small LDCs (including rural electric cooperatives) receive 0.5% of distributed allowances and will receive an additional 0.5% distribution of the supplemental allowance allocation described below each year from 2012 through 2025, phasing out by 2030.

I don’t see electricity price spikes resulting from the bill, since it has numerous cost-containment features, including a price collar (ceiling and floor), and regulated utility rates in general simply don’t move very quickly.

The good news is that stimulus bill had a massive amount of money for weatherizing homes — and the House bill devotes an astonishing amount of investment and incentives toward boosting efficiency (“The triumph of energy efficiency: Waxman-Markey could save $3,900 per household and create 650,000 jobs by 2030“).  Assuming the final legislation keeps all of the efficiency measures from the House, then electricity bills will probably stay pretty darn flat for a long time — see “EPA analysis of Waxman-Markey: Consumer electric bills 7% lower in 2020 thanks to efficiency “” plus 22 GW of extra coal retirements and no new dirty plants.”  One obvious improvement to the final bill would be to have part of the electricity allowances go toward, just as one third of the allowances for natural gas distributors do.

In any case, I hope that English spells out in more detail exactly what he would like to see, since NRECA was slow to support the House bill, and as a result some of the local coo-ps still are still fighting the bill.

4 Responses to Rural Electric Cooperatives: Efficiency measures more important than allowance allocations

  1. David B. Benson says:

    Joe Romm — “local coops still are still fighting the bill.”


  2. Jay Alt says:

    David Benson — “local coops still are still fighting the bill.” ?

    I’ll guess it may include Colorado’s Intermountain Rural Electric Assoc. They sent $100Grand to Patrick Michaels, (former VA climatologist & George Allen chum) paying him to pen more denialist drivel.

  3. mike roddy says:

    There’s an easy way to save energy: tell hotels to install the same energy saving keycard systems that the entire world uses, except us and Canada. Your room key sends a message to the thermostat that you are in the room, and vice versa. Payback time: 18 months, much less with rebates and tax credits.


  4. Brendan says:

    It makes sense that the rural providers would want to see more efficiency. Line costs are so high that avoiding the need to upgrade power lines, transformers, substations, etc. is as important to their bottom line as anything. If you can knock some demand off those lines, the money saved by avoiding the need to upgrade facilities (when, for example, a few more homes are built, or a few more A/C units installed) can more than offset other costs added to the fuel. On top of that, longer runs carrying more power mean higher line losses which the utility is on the hook for. It’s hard not to imagine that efficiency gains help rural coops more than their metropolitan counterparts.

    You have to remember who the people are that run these individual co-ops are. These are the same rural people who reliably vote to the right of the rest of the country, even when it’s clearly not in their own best interest. They listen to, and trust, the people who tell you that filling your tires to save gas is for pinko commies (to paraphrase), even though there is no valid reason not to. So it’s no surprise that the people running these individual co-ops are pushing back against the climate legislation regardless of how it will really affect them. However, it looks like the national association can see beyond the politics and knows what’s really best for them. Let’s hope a little of that enlightenment trickles down to to their members.