Georgia Magazine - October 2009 - (Page 16)

SPECIAL ENERGY REPORT The most significant energy policy debate of our time T his series of articles on energy legislation before Congress is generating some passionate reader responses, and that’s good news. Climate-change legislation is the most significant energy policy debate of our time. It is vital that Congress hears from educated citizens and that Congress gets it right. We are apparently striking a balance in this series with some respondents chiding GEORGIA Magazine for lending credence to the issue of global warming on one side, and other respondents interpreting our articles as opposing climate-change legislation and all things renewable and energy efficient. Learn about EMCs’ energy initiatives and more background on the climate-change debate by visiting While the debate over the science of climate change is not the responsibility of Georgia’s EMCs, it is our duty to raise legitimate concerns regarding affordability, reliability, fairness and whether or not proposals are achievable with developing technologies. The U.S. Senate is poised to act on climate-change legislation this fall since the U.S. House passed H.R. 2454—the American Clean Energy and Security Act (ACES) in June. As this issue of GEORGIA Magazine went to press, Sens. Barbara Boxer (D-CA) and John Kerry (D-MA) had plans to release their draft language of so-called “Boxer-Kerry” climate-change legislation in late September. Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid (D-NV) has stated the Senate will have ample time to consider their version of climatechange legislation before the end of the year, but acknowledges it could carry over to 2010. How will ACES impact my electricity bill and the costs/reliability of future energy supply in general? ACES will increase your electric bill. All electric service providers in Missouri—where 82 percent of their electricity comes from coal—recently reported to their congressional delegation that the cost increase estimates would be 25 percent to 77 percent by 2020 for the climate-change provisions in ACES alone, and urged changes in the Senate to mitigate the severity of these impacts. Several factors (listed below) will cause costs to rise in almost all states, dependent on each utility’s percentage of coal-fired generation. (Fifty percent of our nation’s electricity comes from coal-fired generation. In Georgia, 62 percent of electricity is produced from coal overall. Roughly 42 percent of electricity for electric cooperative consumers in Georgia comes from coal because of the EMCs’ significant investment in nuclear generation, which provides roughly 40 percent.) • The bill intentionally creates a shortage of CO2 allowances, with the price expected to rise sharply and no upper limit on price. (CO2—carbon dioxide—is the primary greenhouse gas emitted when burning fossil fuels, and is believed by some to be the cause of man-made global warming.) • CO2 capture and storage technology is not proven. If proven on a commercial scale, it would allow utilities to continue using coal with greatly reduced CO2 emissions, but at much higher costs. • Unlike Midwestern or Southwestern states with wind and solar energy opportunities, renewable energy is not available on an economic or commercial scale in Georgia; therefore, the noncompliance penalty (roughly a 28percent premium on today’s average cost/kWh) mandated in the renewable energy standard in ACES will be an additional cost for almost half of the EMC member-owners in Georgia. • Energy costs are going to rise due to the need for new generation capacity regardless of climate change/ energy legislation, but shrinking capacity reserves and more costly alternatives to coal will increase costs even further. • A report on Sept. 15, 2009, by CBS correspondent Declan McCullagh, says, “The Obama administration has privately concluded that a cap-and-trade law would cost American taxpayers up to $200 billion a year, the equivalent of hiking personal income taxes by about 15 percent.” Our representatives and senators need to fight for energy legislation that is: • FAIR—Legislation needs to recognize regional differences in how electricity is produced. Consumers should not be penalized because of where they live. • AFFORDABLE—Any plan must keep electric bills affordable for all Americans. • ACHIEVABLE—Mandates must be realistic to ensure long-term success. H.R. 2454 as passed by the House of Representatives does not meet the above criteria. We urge our members of Congress to oppose legislation if significant changes to improve the bill consistent with these fundamental objectives are not made in the Senate. How to reach Georgia’s representatives and senators The main Capitol switchboard phone number is (202) 224-3121, and you can get in touch with any member of Congress through this number. Contact information for Georgia’s congressional delegation can also be found at For more information and how to make your voice heard, go to www.ouren Let us hear from you! E-mail your comments to energyoutlook@georgia GEORGIA MAGAZINE

Table of Contents for the Digital Edition of Georgia Magazine - October 2009

Georgia Magazine - October 2009
Picture This?
Festival Guide
Special Energy Report
Treasures in Tennessee
My Georgia
Georgia Gardens
Georgia Cooks
Cookbook of the Month

Georgia Magazine - October 2009