A representative of the National Rural Electric Cooperative Association told members of the Iowa group that environmental concerns are going to be a big issue facing the industry in the coming year. Chuck Penry says the discussions center on lowering greenhouse gases — with vehicles and coal-burning electric plants as the largest producers of the gases.
Penry says everyone in the electric and transportation industries are going to be hit by the discussion, but he says a bill will probably not come out of Congress until next year. Penry says it’s obvious something is going to take happen with the issue, and electricity producers are going to have to take some action. He says the type of action they take and when is still a question.
Penry says if technology can solve some of the problems, then it will be a lot cheaper on the average person’s pocketbook. Penry says the co-ops believe in a slow steady approach instead of a stringent approach saying were not going to produce any more carbon, as he says they don’t think that’s a viable option. Penry says co-ops aren’t saying they need to have coal, he says they need to have a variety of resources to produce energy, including coal.
He says coal is a resource we have available in large quantities in North America and it would be helpful to find a cleaner way to burn coal. Penry says depending on domestic resources instead of depending on foreign resources makes more sense economically. Penry says co-ops are working on putting more funds into the farm bill for the development of energy through burning renewable sources like switchgrass.
Penry says because of the rural location of electric cooperatives, this presents a tremendous opportunity, and the co-ops have been working with Iowa’s two U.S. senators on this. Penry made his remarks at the Iowa Association of Electric Cooperatives meeting in Des Moines.