Local co-op urges
By Carrie A. Mizell
customers to speak out against cap and trade bill
A sign in front of Central Florida Electric Cooperative’s main office calls for its 32,000 customers to speak out against a cap and trade bill that if passed will reportedly hit rural electric customers the hardest, possibly driving up residential power bills by as much as $75 per month.
The local co-op is working with electric cooperatives from throughout the country in an effort to kill the American Clean Energy and Security Act of 2009, which passed the House of Representatives by a 219 to 212 vote in late June and is now expected to go before the U.S. Senate this fall.
If it becomes law, the legislation would place mandatory limits on carbon dioxide emissions and require a switch to cleaner sources of energy over the next 40 years. Under the “trade” portion of the legislation, companies that emit less CO2 than their cap could sell their excess allowances to other companies that need allowance to operate, while the cap is reduced over time.
Electric cooperative officials not only in Chiefland, but throughout the United States believe that this legislation will once again make electricity a luxury for Americans, many of whom are just trying to stay afloat during dire economic times.
According to Tim Hastings, supervisor of member services at CFEC, co-op customers will inevitably see a rate increase on their monthly electric bills if the legislation passes.
Hastings passed along the following statistics, which were determined by calculations performed by Heritage Foundation: For the state of Florida, over the 2012-2035 timeframe on average, the bill would lower gross state product by $16,806 million, reduce personal income by $6,920 million, destroy 66,938 jobs, raise electricity prices by $829.00 per household and raise gasoline prices by .65 cents per gallon.
In the 1970s federal policies encouraged co-ops to build coal plants to keep costs down, keep energy affordable and reduce reliance on foreign energy sources. However, if this bill becomes law, generation and transmission cooperatives like Seminole Electric, who provide coal-generated wholesale electric power to Central Florida Electric and nine other systems, would have to raise their prices, which would in turn be passed on to its 1.7 million individual and business customers in the state of Florida because Seminole Electric would be billed per carbon ton of output they use.
In Florida and most of the southeastern U.S., inconsistent winds and significant cloud cover make solar and wind turbine installations less reliable and less economical alternatives to fossil-fueled power.
“We are not against renewables,” Hastings said. “But strangling those who depend on coal is not the right thing to do.”
Hastings said that customers of Central Florida Electric Cooperative who attend the annual meeting on Saturday, Oct. 3 will be asked to sign cards that will be sent to U.S. Senators Bill Nelson and Mel Martinez asking them to not vote in favor of the Clean Energy bill.
For more information, visit: www.ourenergy.coop/