Rural Missouri - February 2012 - (Page 5)
Hart to Heart
Happy 75th AMEC
hen the early pioneers began establishing electric co-ops in Missouri, they were in the dark, both literally and figuratively. Their efforts were intended to bring electric lights to a group of people who were struggling to improve their quality of life, even after the experts said it was impossible. At the same time, they were in the dark on how to accomplish this mighty task but were determined to make it happen for their friends and neighbors. These were not highly educated businessmen skilled in the ways of operating what would soon become a big business. For the most part, they were humble farmers and ranchers, savvy at pricing cattle and planting crops, but unsure how to negotiate a wholesale power contract. Even though they were making progress, many false starts were made, until a group of like-minded individuals concluded there might be some benefit in an organization where ideas and solutions to common problems could be shared. Led by a true champion of Missouri’s rural electrification program, attorney Fenton Stockard, a small group of men representing eight electric cooperatives gathered in Columbia on Feb. 11, 1937.
by Barry Hart email@example.com
That meeting set into motion organization of what would later be called the Association of Missouri Electric Cooperatives. This association embodied the sixth cooperative principle, “Cooperation among Cooperatives.” According to the International Cooperative Alliance’s Statement on the Cooperative Identity, “Cooperatives serve their members most effectively and strengthen the cooperative movement by working together through local, national, regional and international structures.” And that’s what started here in Missouri at that meeting in 1937. The electric cooperative leaders who established this association had as their goal doing together what the local system could not do on its own. This included group purchasing of equipment, monitor-
ing legislation, communicating with members and training employees and directors to do their jobs safely and effectively. Fast forward 75 years, and that is what this association continues to do for its 48 member systems at a level of excellence admired by other states. The state association is your electric cooperative’s watchdog at the state and national capitals to make sure bills aren’t passed that could hurt your co-op. It offers training for employees of every description, with a priority on safety for you and co-op employees, in addition to courses that create more effective directors. We coordinate advertising to take advantage of group discounts. We operate a print shop for savings on the printed and digital materials electric co-
“By working together, we have kept the rural electric program strong and influential in Missouri.” Barry Hart
ops need. We also publish Rural Missouri magazine, dedicated to keeping you informed, which can be produced and delivered for less than the price of a stamp. The association also speeds the restoration of your electric service when Mother Nature deals a blow to electric co-op lines. And our equipment testing program saves thousands of dollars each year and ensures employees can trust their equipment, knowing it’s safe to use. The Association of Missouri Electric Cooperatives has come a long way in its 75-year history. But one thing hasn’t changed. By working together, we have kept the rural electric program strong and influential in Missouri. We have done this by not forgetting the goals of those early pioneers who built your co-op when the experts said it couldn’t be done. We are the ties that bind what is often referred to as the electric co-op family. For this reason, all of us at the association are proud to work for you, and we want this to continue to be the best statewide rural electric association in the country. We owe it to those early pioneers and to you! Hart is the executive vice president of the Association of Missouri Electric Cooperatives. You can learn more about AMEC history on pages 8-9 and online at www. facebook.com/REAphotos.
Clean air and affordable power
ir quality in the United States has improved dramatically since 1970, and Missouri’s electric cooperatives have done their part. We know our members care about both clean air and the price of electricity. We are always concerned about the cost of clean air because in our nonprofit coop business model, co-op members must pay for everything. Cooperative members need to know what we have done on their behalf to cost effectively fulfill our environmental responsibilities. Some of our early, voluntary steps are producing benefits in 2012 as we comply with the Environmental Protection Agency’s new air regulations released in December. Since we already reduced emissions of sulfur dioxide and nitrogen oxides 90 percent with our $1.1 billion investment in environmental equipment and our switch to low-sulfur Western coal in 1994, we will be able to meet the new regulations much more efficiently. Our strategic decision to remove sulfur dioxide from air emissions early — way before the 2012 regula-
by Jim Jura
tions — resulted in our members’ owning some of the cleanest coal plants in the country. Our early decisions allowed us to reduce emissions below EPA requirements, and we were able to receive credits that could be sold to others who were not reducing emissions enough. We also have added nitrogen oxides control equipment at our large coal-fired power plants and have taken voluntary steps to research new technology to remove mercury early at no additional cost to members. We have been able to avoid emissions by securing cost-effective
renewable energy sources. Missouri’s electric co-ops opened the door to wind-powered electricity in the state and were recognized by the Missouri Department of Natural Resources as the 2006 “Wind Cooperative of the Year.” We remain Missouri’s wind energy leader thanks in part to developers taking advantage of the federal tax credit. Besides wind, we generate electricity with hydropower from federal dams, and we’ve tested various biomass fuels — all aimed at reducing air emissions with affordable alternatives to fossil fuels. However, on our sys-
“We know our members care about both clean air and the price of electricity.” Jim Jura
tem fossil fuels still generate nearly 90 percent of co-op electricity. Keeping them in the generation mix remains a high priority if we want to remain one of the lowest-cost states for residential electric rates. In the next three or four years, there are additional changes we plan to make to comply with EPA’s most recent air rules. On our existing plants, we’ve done maintenance work on precipitators that remove extremely fine ash particles. While this equipment is performing well, we need to upgrade it to improve reliability and assure compliance with the rules. Other changes include expanding use of the new mercury removal technology, adding monitoring equipment in the stacks to test for mercury and particulate emissions and reporting results to Missouri DNR and EPA to show compliance. I’m proud of our environmental commitment, and I hope that all of our Missouri electric cooperative members feel the same. Jura is CEO of Associated Electric Cooperative, the wholesale power supplier for electric co-ops in Missouri and parts of Iowa and Oklahoma.
Table of Contents for the Digital Edition of Rural Missouri - February 2012
Rural Missouri - February 2012
Table of Contents
A plague of enmity
Out of the Way Eats
Hearth and Home
If the shoe fits
Rural Missouri - February 2012