Rural Missouri - March 2011 - (Page 5)

Hart to Heart Power for future Februaries L by Barry Hart bhart@amec.coop ast month, employees of every electric cooperative in the state braced for a major winter weather event. What looked like the storm of the century only caused about 6,000 outages at one point, though most of these were quickly repaired. Preparations that took place before the storm struck were key to keeping outage numbers low and repairs fast. I was proud of the work that went on around the state, both before and after the snow and ice fell. In the midst of the storm, when the ice had turned to snow and I was hunkered down in the office with those who made it in, I received an e-mail that concerned me even more than the nasty weather. It came from our national association in Washington, D.C., which monitors happenings at electric utilities around the nation. This e-mail warned of rolling blackouts in Texas, where unusually cold weather had taxed the electric grid to the point where the supply of power could not meet the demand. As a result, ERCOT, which oversees power suppliers in Texas, had ordered the companies to institute blackouts averaging about 45 minutes. They were necessary in order to avoid damage to the system that would have caused longer and more widespread outages. These outages happened because the Lone Star State does not have sufficient capacity to meet the needs of its people during periods of extremely high electricity use. This emergency situation reminded me of the discussions taking place in Missouri today on our own energy future. Missouri is not in danger of repeating what happened in Texas because our power supplier, Associated Elec- tric, is constantly working to ensure there is enough generation to meet your needs. That’s why the discussions taking place in the boardrooms of electricity suppliers across Missouri are so important. Plans must be made now to ensure you have all the electricity you will need in the future. This discussion is not just about whether your home will have heat on some future February morning when the mercury drops below zero. It’s also about whether Missouri can continue to attract jobs through low rates and reliable power. For the past several months, I’ve been tell- “Plans must be made now to ensure you have all the electricity you will need in the future.” Barry Hart ing you that our options for these “future watts” are limited. Based on the reserves we have in the United States, coal is our best option for keeping electricity affordable. However, uncertainties about the future of coal as a fuel make it unlikely we will turn to this fuel for future power plants. That leaves natural gas and nuclear to fuel the power plants of the future. Other sources of power — wind, solar, biomass and hydropower — are being used now, but do not offer the 24/7 supply that will be required. Our Guest Column this month was provided by two farsighted legislators who are offering bills that would keep the nuclear power option open for Missouri. Please read what they have to say, and then ask your state legislators to support their measures when they come up in the Capitol. Many of you have written to us expressing your thoughts on nuclear energy in Missouri. There will be a time for debate on this issue. For now, it’s important that we don’t tie our hands — and Missouri’s future — by restricting our options to one. Hart is the executive vice president of the Association of Missouri Electric Cooperatives. Guest Column In control of our energy future n a cold day, you can see the steam rising from Ameren’s Callaway Nuclear Power Plant from just about anywhere in central Missouri. Since it came on line in 1984, this plant has steadily and efficiently generated enough electricity to meet 19 percent of Ameren Missouri’s electricity needs. Upstream and across the Missouri River from the plant site, legislators are debating a pair of bills we have introduced that would preserve the option of building a second power plant at the Callaway site. Passage of House Bill 124 and Senate Bill 50 is just the first step in what could be the largest economic development project in the state’s history and a vital effort to secure our state’s energy future. These bills would make it possible for investor-owned utilities to recover the cost of applying for a site permit. These measures enjoy strong support that includes Gov. Nixon, all of the state’s utilities, labor unions, local chambers of commerce and key business leaders. We crafted these bills to ensure consumers are protected, whether or not the plant is built. • Under the legislation, investorowned utilities could not recover site permit costs until a permit is O by Sen. Mike Kehoe and Rep. Jeanie Riddle obtained, probably after 2014. Costs could only be recovered if the Public Service Commission determines they were spent prudently. • The legislation would keep alive the option of building a nuclear power plant. It doesn’t commit anyone to actually building such a plant. • This legislation does not affect the state’s Construction Work in Progress (CWIP) law. It is a limited exemption for a very specific purpose. • The bills contain several consumer protection measures. For example, both of these bills require that any utility that has recovered costs from ratepayers relating to the permit must refund the amount collected if the permit is ever sold or transferred. As debate moves forward on these bills, we have made it clear we believe Missouri needs to do what is right for our energy future, both in the short term and the long term. This project is good for those of us living today. But it will be critical for our children and grandchildren. Reliable and abundant electricity is not just a matter of convenience. It is a significant “Reliable and abundant electricity is not just a matter of convenience. It is a significant driver for all economic expansion and development.” Sen. Mike Kehoe and Rep. Jeanie Riddle MARCH 2011 driver for all economic expansion and development. Missourians want to work, and many do not have that opportunity today due to the downturn in the economy. Should this plant be built, it will put many people back to work in the short term, while expanding the economic development opportunities that come with a reliable supply of electricity well into the future. The only opposition to these bills is coming from a small group of large corporations that pay a subsidized rate for their electricity and are trying to hold the rest of the state hostage. We must decide whether we control our own energy future — or whether we will let it be dictated by out-ofstate interests that may or may not be around when we need this plant. Both of us have been members of an electric co-op for 30 years, and as legislators and co-op members, we ask for your support to get this legislation passed. Please feel free to contact our offices or to go to our websites to find additional information about House Bill 124 and Senate Bill 50. House websites can be found at www.house. mo.gov, while Senate sites can be accessed at www.senate.mo.gov. Kehoe is a state senator from Jefferson City. Riddle is a state representative from Mokane. 5 http://www.house.mo.gov http://www.house.mo.gov http://www.senate.mo.gov

Table of Contents for the Digital Edition of Rural Missouri - March 2011

Rural Missouri - March 2011
Contents
Comments
Columns
Docent of the Walking Cane Dulcimer
Out of the Way Eats
Mail Bag
The No-Dig (And Less Sweat) Gardening Alternative
Grow a Delicious Landscape
A Recycled Craft
Hearth and Home
News Briefs
The Gainesville Gunner
Marketplace
Around Missouri
Top Apps for Rural Missourians
Neighbors
Just4Kids

Rural Missouri - March 2011

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