Leaders from Iowa’s rural electric cooperatives are in Florida this week for the National Rural Electric Cooperative Association annual meeting. Roger Arthur of the Alamakee-Clayton Coop in northeast Iowa says the railroad monopoly on shipping and the increased cost of shipping by rail is key topic. He says it’ll be one of the top three issues being discussed, as he says there’s a coalition that includes not only utilities, but farm industries that are all impacted.
Arthur says any industry that relies on the railroads to ship material is being impacted. Arthur, who is from Sumner, says this issue started as a concern among midwest coops, but has expanded. He says it’s gaining more attention on a national level and he says there seems to be a stronger realization of what it’s going to cost. Arthur says Iowa coops are already seeing the increase in the cost of shipping coal.
Arthur says the coops have been burning stored coal, but the new shipment double the cost and also includes a fuel surcharge. He says the more expensive coal is now being burned and that figures into the overall cost of electricity. Arthur says the cost has probably gone up over 20-percent right now. Arthur says the railroad’s monopoly status makes it tough to change things, but he says hopefully they might be able to get some change as the issue gets more national attention. He says most coops are served by a single rail line and don’t have a cheaper alternative for bringing in the coal needed to fuel their electric plants.