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Climate Change and Your Electric Bill

It would seem every day we hear and or see news on climate change with many proclaiming the problem, some providing what they deem is a solution, and most of us still wondering where is this train headed. As your power cooperative in southern Illinois, Southern Illinois Power Cooperative (SIPC) is taking such discussion very seriously. As a cooperative we do not have stockholders so our entire focus is on our users of electrical power (members/customers). In keeping with this focus we only pass on in the bill what it really cost to "run the business"; only holding back some dollars to invest back into the generation and transmission assets we own.

With any local, state, or federal regulation, tax, or rule placed upon SIPC, those costs are passed on to the members for the power they consume. With typical emissions from our coal-fired and natural gas-fired plants we monitor and control sulfur-dioxide, nitrogen oxides, particulates (ash particles), and mercury. We also monitor and manage water run-off and chemical uses in the production and transmission of electrical power. Each of these emissions increases the cost of your electrical bill from your distribution cooperative. SIPC actually has one of the cleanest power plants in the state and region; thus, we are already meeting the current permit limitations and helping to keep southern Illinois air clean.

The federal government is discussing the potential need to regulate carbon dioxide (CO2) due to computer modeling results and theories that CO2 is a contributor to the greenhouse effect. This is otherwise known as nature's process in creating a warmer planet. Climate change is used loosely in the media to describe this whole topic. CO2 is exhaled by humans and animals during normal daily life and by no means harmful in of itself. Power plants which use coal, natural gas, oil, and other combustible materials emit CO2 as part of the normal combustion process. Automobiles, trucks, motorcycles, boats, and lawn mowing equipment all emit CO2 when they use typical fuels. Plants, trees, and grasses absorb CO2 as they need it to survive. While there are signs the planet is going through a warming phase many still debate the causes.

SIPC is assuming some form of climate change regulation will come in the next administration as there is considerable activity on Capitol Hill. What we are trying to do is educate our users of electrical power to get involved with your federal representatives in congress. The current bills being crafted are calling for significant reductions in CO2 which are not possible without effectively doubling your electric bill. The technology to economically and effectively remove and store CO2 does not exist today on the shelf for us to purchase and install. Can we reduce some CO2 now and continue to trim it as the technology improves? Yes we all can contribute to this goal but there is no silver bullet to address this global issue.

The Electric Power Research Institute (EPRI) has a very good balanced plan to address CO2 and I would recommend you visit their website at http://mydocs.epri.com/docs/public/DiscussionPaper2007.pdf for public access to this document. This document lays out the only comprehensive plan I know of. The main issues facing our electric supply are questions you should be asking your elected officials in Washington DC. SIPC hopes you will address the following three topics:

If you do anything else besides reading this article, then please address the issue of climate change with your senator and representative. You can do this by visiting http://www.ourenergy.coop or by calling our offices and we will mail you the cards to fill out so you can mail them in.

SIPC has joined as one of the founding members of the new National Renewables Cooperative Organization (NRCO) to jointly develop cost-effective renewable generation resources. NRCO will begin in earnest in early 2009 in its quest to evaluate and pursue renewable projects for its members nationwide. We recognize renewables cannot answer completely the growing demand for power; however, we do recognize it is the responsible thing to do in helping to secure future power resources. Aces Power Marketing of Indianapolis, IN was hired to develop the initial plan and you can find some basic information on NRCO at:

http://www.acespower.com/Resources/NRCO%20Update.pdf

With NRCO SIPC will pursue cost-effective renewable generation resources such as hydro, wind, and others as they become available.

SIPC would hope as climate change legislation does come, it is responsible and mindful of the three questions above. The government will need to help us with the solutions in moving forward, the issue before us is international and so should be the cooperation.

If you would like to request a card to write your congressman please feel free to call our offices at 618-964-1448 or write to:

Southern IL Power Cooperative
Attn. Climate Change Form Request
11543 Lake of Egypt Road
Marion, IL 62959

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