Stand with us to keep power affordable

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G. Thomas Upshaw | President & CEO

We get a common request during our conversations with members—”Can you lower my power bill?” It’s often said with a wry smile, but we still try to help by providing useful advice on energy use, like advising members on how to better insulate their homes and how to use energy wisely.

We do, however, try mightily to keep rates from going up any more than is absolutely necessary, but 70 percent of your power bill is driven by the cost of wholesale power to your cooperative.

Factors, like the recession, fuel supply and regulations, often threaten to drive power prices up.

A looming threat is the Environmental Protection Agency’s stance on coal-based power plants. New EPA rules essentially will force utilities to either eliminate coal as a fuel source or capture and store carbon dioxide emissions (with prohibitively expensive and commercially impractical technology).

Much of the energy we distribute comes from coal-powered generation. Our power supplier, Central Electric Power Cooperative, calculated an estimate of the cost of replacing our coal power plants with natural gas and nuclear power plants. The projected result: a 54-percent increase in rates!

Your personal invitation

Be our guest Saturday, May 3

As a member of Palmetto Electric Cooperative, you’re the guest of honor at our 2014 Annual Meeting May 3 at the co-op’s Ridgeland office. See the Annual Report for details, but I wanted to give the basics right here:

Noon—Registration and voting open; concessions, flea market open; and auction begins.

6 p.m.—Registration ends, business meeting begins. Prize drawings follow the business meeting.

All members who register will have a chance to win. The grand prize is a 2006 Ford Ranger XLT SuperCab. You must be present to win. Good luck!

Think about that.

If you’re struggling to pay a $200 power bill now, it will be more than $300 if these regulations have the effect we expect from them.

The co-ops’ record on the environment speaks for itself. For years, Palmetto Electric and other S.C. co-ops have been buying power from environmentally friendly biomass power plants that capture and use the methane gas produced by landfills. Our energy efficiency programs are nationally recognized. We purchase the output from the state’s largest solar farm. Much of the power you use today is produced by some of the cleanest coal-based power plants in the country. Still, you may not think these plants are clean enough, but to turn them off immediately would cause dramatic price increases.

It may surprise you to know that three decades ago, it was unlawful to build new natural gas-based power plants. That forced utilities to invest billions in coal generation. Since then, co-ops have invested billions more to add advanced technologies and comply with existing regulations.

It seems unfair that the EPA now wants to ban coal. We seek a more balanced approach, a range of power production methods to meet your needs—an “all-of-the-above” strategy to our nation’s energy policy.

We urge the EPA to withdraw this proposal and work with electric co-ops on a common-sense solution that balances energy needs and environmental concerns. You can help. Add your voice to the debate at sc.tellepa.com .

We might not be able to lower your bill, but we’re fighting to keep it affordable. Will you stand with us?

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