EPA should replace the CPP, promote fuel mix

The Environmental Protection Agency recent decision to repeal the Clean Power Plan can provide much needed flexibility for America’s electric cooperatives, the not-for-profit utilities that power 56 percent of the nation’s landscape.

I write today with Jim Matheson, CEO of the National Rural Electric Cooperative Association, to encourage EPA to develop a common-sense replacement. The preferred approach is for the agency to write a replacement rule focused on improvements that can be achieved at individual power plants.

Electric cooperatives are dedicated to a healthy environment, vibrant rural communities and prioritizing the needs of their members. These factors, along with market forces, are driving co-ops to diversify their generating portfolio. That’s why coal-fired electric generation at electric cooperatives has declined by nine percent since 2014, and the reason that co-ops today use five times more solar energy than just two years ago, leading them to become the most prolific utility-builders of community solar.

Electric co-ops depend on a diverse fuel mix to meet the energy needs of their 42 million members, protect reliability of the energy system, and ensure power affordability.

Ohio’s Electric Cooperatives has invested more than $1 billion of emissions control systems at its Brilliant, Ohio-based Cardinal Generating Plant, the primary source of power generation for Ohio’s electric cooperative network, which is considered one of the most environmentally friendly coal-fired power plants on the globe. Ohio’s electric cooperative network serves approximately 1 million consumers in 77 of Ohio’s 88 counties.

Co-op members are asking for more from their electricity providers. As member-owned, not-for-profit organizations, electric cooperatives are driven by a desire to meet and exceed their members’ expectations. EPA can help co-ops achieve that mission by replacing the Clean Power Plan with a sound regulation that’s consistent with the Clean Air Act.

Patrick O’Loughlin

President & CEO

Ohio’s Electric Cooperatives