Operating an electric utility usually entails hiring managers, engineers, linemen and customer service representatives. Throw in a few staff to manage the finances and keep the technology working, and you’re good to go, right?
Not necessarily. More than ever, electric utilities are faced with legislative and regulatory hurdles that make it increasingly difficult to deliver power to you. With the Environmental Protection Agency’s (EPA’s) Clean Power Plan, the complexity has increased incredibly in every aspect of our industry.
To help us battle what we believe is unneeded regulatory overreach, you voiced your concerns. That was our initial step — providing real-life concerns over what the impacts of the proposed rule would be. More than 1 million Americans joined you because EPA’s actions jeopardize rural America’s supply of safe, affordable and reliable electricity.
You had an impact. As we told you last month, under the final rule, EPA will treat the new carbon-free generation at Watts Bar Nuclear Plant in a fair manner under the final version of the plan. But the final rule still has serious flaws.
Electric cooperatives aren’t giving up. Instead, we are filing suit, asking a federal court to prevent the rule from taking effect. The National Rural Electric Cooperative Association and 39 generation and transmission co-ops have asked the U.S. Court of Appeals for the D.C. Circuit to intervene and recognize the lack of legal authority behind the EPA’s regulation.
This action isn’t taken lightly. And it doesn’t reflect a lack of commitment to a cleaner energy future. We took this final action as a last resort because EPA has repeatedly ignored calls from the nation’s rural electric co-ops for common-sense safeguards to ensure affordability and reliability. There are a number of complicated, specific legal issues that must be addressed by the courts. Those issues center on these concerns:
- The Clean Power Plan (CPP) goes far beyond what the Clean Air Act authorizes the EPA to do and will seriously challenge our nation’s electric system.
- The CPP will severely and adversely impact millions of American families and businesses. It will usher in a new era of increased electric bills and handcuff rural economies across the nation. The hardest-hit by the regulation will be those who can least afford to pay more to keep the lights on — those living on fixed incomes or in poverty.
- America’s electric cooperatives will also be hit particularly hard. The forced shutdown of co-op power plants before their financial obligations are met means co-op member-owners will be paying twice for their electricity: once for what’s still owed to pay off the shuttered plant and again for power from somewhere else.
- The U.S. Congress is poised to approve resolutions that would overturn the Clean Power Plan. Passage of this bipartisan legislation sends yet another clear message that a majority in Congress believes EPA’s climate plan is fatally flawed.
- EPA has dramatically underestimated the Clean Power Plan’s cost to small utilities. The flexibility and other mechanisms designed to reduce costs are not viable for small electric co-ops.
- The EPA’s Clean Power Plan poses a serious threat to the reliability of the nation’s electric grid. Officials responsible for ensuring the reliability of the electric power system have raised concerns about the plan. The North American Electric Reliability Corporation has said that “constructing the resource additions as well as the expected transmission enhancements may represent a significant reliability challenge given the constrained time period for implementation.”
Visit takeaction.tnelectric.org for more information about our fight and how you can stay involved.