NRECA: more fear mongering about EPA's Clean Power Plan
Posted July 18, 2014
The National Rural Electric Cooperative Association (NRECA) is running a deceptive ad campaign trying to undermine first-ever carbon pollution standards proposed by the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) under its Clean Power Plan (click here and here). The ad portrays a wholesome American family as an impending victim of terrible economic hardship from higher electricity costs, should EPA’s proposed rule be passed into law.
It is not surprising NRECA would use these scare tactics: every single time protective health standards are proposed, industries who might be inconvenienced by them make the exact same argument (rural cooperatives are non-profits, but the prospect of change is often threatening). But every single time they have been wrong, with a failed prognostication record spanning more than four decades since the Clean Air Act was passed (click here, here, and here).
Claims like NRECA’s don’t come true for a number of reasons. And, in fact, these reasons are already giving EPA’s Clean Power Plan a head start.
Under the Clean Power Plan, the lights won’t go out and electricity prices won’t skyrocket, because:
- States will rely heavily upon the cheapest option available to reduce carbon pollution: energy efficiency. Indeed, while EPA projects modest electricity rate increases, consumers’ electricity bills are actually expected to decline as less energy is wasted overall.
- State and local governments have a long established record of insuring utilities provide their customers with electricity as efficiently, fairly, and affordably as possible.
- Markets respond to protective programs like the Clean Power Plan with what they do best: innovation and competition.
- Innovation and competition produce affordable substitutes; at the same time, as production of cleaner alternatives expands, “economies of scale” bring down their costs.
- Standards are phased in over time, giving markets plenty of time to do their job.
These principles are already in full swing with carbon pollution. Thanks to states already taking early action to reign in carbon pollution, accelerating growth of energy efficiency programs, and heavy deployment of renewable energy in countries like Germany and China (click here and here), meeting the challenge of EPA’s Clean Power Plan is entirely within reach. In fact, wind is now competitive with natural gas and, according to a recent Department of Energy report, solar is rapidly becoming competitive with wind.
Perhaps NRECA should start paying attention to the members it represents, and market trends, rather than big coal: many rural cooperatives are located precisely where the wind blows the hardest and the sun shines the most, and these sources of clean energy will benefit the most from EPA’s Clean Power Plan. And this is reflected in their investments. As Bob Keefe of Environmental Entrepreneurs summarizes: “many rural electric co-ops are working on ways to bring the next phase of electricity -- clean, renewable energy -- to their members, giving farmers and other residents of rural areas the same sort of access to solar, wind and other forms of clean energy as the rest of America. Just look no further than the website of the National Rural Electric Co-operative Association (NRECA) for proof of how rural co-ops are embracing clean energy with success.”
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