Are Electric Co-ops All So Different?

Photo taken by Joseph Robers on September 10 on his way to work.

The Old Dominion Electric Cooperative argues it is different than commercial utilities because it adheres to the “Seven Cooperative Principles,” the last of which is

Concern for Community—While focusing on members needs, cooperatives work for the sustainable development of their communities through policy.

But sustainable development evidently includes forging ahead in its efforts to build yet another coal fired plant in Virginia, which I first wrote about last December 6, at a time when utilities in other states are abandoning such efforts–the proposed Cyprus Creek Power Station, currently slated to cost $6 billion.

Tamara Deitrich (email), news columnist for the Daily Press wrote on June 7, 2009 in ” “Surry coal plant: Just say no,”

1.7 million adults and 400,000 children in Hampton Roads are already within 30 miles of three existing coal-fired power plants.

And those plants happen to be among the four largest in the state: the Yorktown Power Station in Williamsburg, the Chesapeake Power Station and the Chesterfield Power Station in Chester.

No wonder the Environmental Protection Agency keeps putting us — as it did again in April — on the list of places with air unhealthy to breathe. [I’ve written Dietrich to ask her for her sources and will update to include them if I hear back.]

Groups opposing the plant include the Coalition to Keep Surry Clean, the Sierra Club, Southern Environmental Law Center, Southern Appalachian Mountain Stewards, Appalachian Voices and Chesapeake Climate Action Network. They suffered a blow September 14, when the Dendron Town Council reversed a July action and voted Monday 4-3 (with Mayor Yvonne Pierce breaking a tie) to cede to Surry County Planning Commission review of Old Dominion Electric Cooperative’s yet to be filed application. According to Cory Nealon’s (email) September 16, 2009 Daily Press story “Dendron Town Council: Surry County to review coal plant plans” Councilwoman Misti Furr said that since the 1,600-acre facility would be built on Dendron’s main street,

I felt this should’ve been put in the hands of the people of Dendron.

Furr had submited the resolution establishing the town’s own planning commission in July.
ODEC had objected and Town Attorney C.B. Fison advised that the July vote was illegal since such a commission had been on the books since 2001.

The Smithfield Times‘s Jim Tuttle (email) reports in his September 16 story “Dendron to send project to county planners,” that about a dozen people spoke in favor of retaining town control. Bill Richardson, a nominee for the town commission said,

Surry may not have the best interest of Dendron in mind

Local businesswoman Julie Verdaguer, another nominee added,

I don’t believe we should make anyone else responsible.

According to Tuttle, after the opposition had spoken, Mayor Pierce invited a representative of the supporters to speak. Thomas Byrd held up a petition that he said contained the names of 190 people in favor of using Surry’s Planning Commission. (Tuttle does not report how many of the 190 were town voters, but it seems likely that not all were, since the total population of the town in 2000 was 297 and that, of course, includes children.) Although there are 11 on the County Planning Commission, Byrd argued that the membership of Councilwoman Furr would serve to represent the town’s interests.

Economist Paul Krugman (email , webpage) told us on September 24

The truth about the economics of climate change is that it’s relatively easy being green….

He explained,

Earlier this month, the Congressional Budget Office released an analysis of the effects of Waxman-Markey, concluding that in 2020 the bill would cost the average family only $160 a year, or 0.2 percent of income. That’s roughly the cost of a postage stamp a day. By 2050, when the emissions limit would be much tighter, the burden would rise to 1.2 percent of income. But the budget office also predicts that real G.D.P. will be about two-and-a-half times larger in 2050 than it is today, so that G.D.P. per person will rise by about 80 percent. The cost of climate protection would barely make a dent in that growth. And all of this, of course, ignores the benefits of limiting global warming.

But ODEC and and its member cooperatives, with their sustainable development are part of an effort to get co-op customers to contact Congress complaining about how climate legislation. The form letter reads,

Now more than ever, I am very concerned about what rising energy costs will do to the average person. Many do not have the ability to pay higher electric bills. Please balance any votes you cast about electricity with the need to keep it affordable.

Sounds familiar? It reminds me of those forged letters that Bonner and Associates sent to Charlottesville CongressmanTom Periello and others, which I wrote about on August 28. So do ODEC’s statements that the arguments brought by the Southern Environmental Law Center are fiction.

Makes me think that electric co-ops don’t seem all that different than others lobbying to preserve coal interests.

Advertisements

Tags: , , ,

Leave a Reply

Please log in using one of these methods to post your comment:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s


%d bloggers like this: