Climate Change Position
Approved by the Dairyland Board of Directors September 19, 2008.
Dairyland Power Cooperative, a generation and transmission cooperative based in
La Crosse, Wisconsin, serves the power needs of almost 600,000 people living in the four
states of Wisconsin, Iowa, Minnesota and Illinois. We are governed by a Board of
Directors elected from our membership. In January 2008, our Board adopted an
environmental management and stewardship policy confirming the commitment of our
entire organization to a healthy environment, now and in the future.
Today, public concern about the potential impact of greenhouse gases (GHG) on our
climate has reached the point where elected officials feel compelled to take action.
Because of our commitment to the environment and the clear public concern over GHG,
Dairyland pledges to work with our elected officials to develop fair, comprehensive
policies to address GHG emissions. We are in favor of our elected representatives
addressing this issue, rather than allowing unelected bureaucracies or courts to pass
regulatory policies without our input. This paper outlines our views on this incredibly
important and complex issue.
Since our founding in 1941, Dairyland as a member-owned and governed cooperative has
been driven by the goal of providing reliable and affordable energy for our members.
Issues of reliability and affordability are still vital concerns to our members. We will be
an advocate for our nation adopting those climate change policies that will do no harm to
electric reliability and have minimal impact on affordability while still improving the
environment in which we all live, work and play. We will work for policies that will not
harm economic growth or put our national security at risk because these are fundamental
values that secure our way of life. Consistent with the cooperative philosophy, our
response to climate change legislation is also grounded in a member resolution passed at
our most recent annual meeting.
At the outset, it is important to point out the complex challenge of addressing GHG
emissions. There is no commercially available technology that can be adapted to retrofit
existing fossil-fueled power plants to reduce or eliminate CO2 emissions. Reducing the
output of GHG emissions will require the adoption of a number of strategies in the short
term and the development of new technologies in the longer term. “Targets” for GHG
emission reduction must have realistic time frames if we as a nation are going to achieve
It is also important to point out that the cooperative energy sector has historically had a
strong reliance on coal-fired power, which is true with Dairyland Power Cooperative as
well. The reason for this is straight-forward and simple: coal is a plentiful domestic fuel
resource that has provided the most reliable and affordable type of energy. Since
cooperatives operate on non-for-profit basis solely to benefit their members, coal-fired
power has been a logical choice for the entire cooperative sector. As prevailing thoughts
have evolved regarding coal-based power, we must also understand that we are living
with past decisions made by our cooperative leaders lawfully, in good faith and in the
best interest of their members. These well thought-through decisions are not easily nor
quickly changed. Because of this historical fact, climate change legislation, if not fairly
crafted, could cause devastating impacts on our members.
Given this background, we offer the following principles that will guide our views and
our positions in addressing the climate change issue:
- Climate change legislation must cover all sectors of the economy and not simply electric utilities. If we are serious about reducing GHG emissions, all GHG-emitting
businesses must be asked to do their fair share.
- Climate change legislation must be national or international in scope. State by state
or even regional policies will not adequately address the issues we face, and would
unnecessarily complicate business decisions for cooperatives like ours serving
members in four different states. We oppose regulation at the state level and feel
state action is not the appropriate vehicle to achieve significant emissions reduction.
- While the United States cannot force other nations to match our policies, we must
insist through our trading policies that businesses in those nations who seek to do
business in the United States must meet our GHG standards. If they are going to sell
their products in competition with American manufacturers and workers, they must
be held to the same standards as American companies.
- This nation must make an immediate, unprecedented and powerful investment in
technology to meet aggressive GHG reduction targets. As this nation committed
ourselves to the Apollo space missions that radically expanded the bounds of human
exploration, we need a dramatic program of research and development to alter
contemporary energy choices. Without significant technological improvements,
climate change legislation could wreak havoc on our economy, putting special
pressure on those in society who can least afford the change, and decimating our
remaining manufacturing industries.
- In the short term, we should continue to emphasize energy conservation, energy
efficiency, enhanced building codes and appliance standards and proven techniques
like carbon storage in agricultural and forest programs. Dairyland has one of the best
load management programs in the industry, wisely utilizing our resources to reduce
demand for new peak energy plants. Governments should support and encourage
load management and support research into time of day pricing, smart grids and other
technological methods to better use our existing power delivery network. These
programs must be transparent and understandable to the general public so everyone
understands their role in cooperating to meet targets.
- One of Dairyland’s priorities is promoting safety for our employees, our members
and the general public. Short term steps to deal with GHG gas reductions must take
into account safety to everyone concerned. We should not sacrifice safety as we
develop technologies to address the climate change issue.
- Dairyland is committed to the continuing development of renewable resources, an
important part of the solution to GHG emissions. We have developed a fleet of wind
farms, manure digesters, biomass projects, landfill gas projects and a hydro facility,
and are on track to meet existing mandated renewable goals. Dairyland is also a
member of the National Renewables Cooperative Organization (NRCO), and our
President and CEO Bill Berg is Vice President of the NRCO board. This cooperative
organization was formed to give electric cooperatives better access to renewable
project opportunities throughout the nation. Our members have taken the following
aggressive stance on renewable energy: “Recognizing the challenges involved in
siting, permitting and constructing renewable resources, we commit our cooperative
to work diligently toward achieving a 25% level of renewable energy by 2025.”
- We should remove regulatory impediments to increasing the efficiency of existing
power plants. If we can enhance plant output while using less fuel, we will be
reducing GHG emissions in our atmosphere.
- Dairyland supports changes in state and federal legislation and regulations to
streamline the process of allowing nuclear power plants to be built as a viable option
for carbon-free baseload electric energy. We strongly favor a national commitment to
nuclear energy, including supporting a new generation of nuclear plants, reprocessing
of commercial spent nuclear fuel, and prompt action to meet the promise of a national
spent fuel repository. While a utility of our size is unlikely to engage in building a
nuclear plant of our own, this nation needs nuclear as a baseload option, and
opportunities to partner in regional projects or at least purchase energy from nuclear
plants should be available as we strive for ways to meet GHG reduction targets. Any
incentives for new nuclear plants must be available to non-profit energy providers.
- Legislators need to understand the complete economic impact of their decisions and
the ultimate ramifications on the consuming ratepayer. As a general rule, rural
electric cooperative members have lower incomes than customers living in urban
areas. Our operating costs for transmission and distribution are higher because we
have far fewer customers per mile of line. In the short term, economic “off ramps”
may be necessary if we cannot meet legislated targets without disproportionate rate
increases in rural America.
- Economic incentives, tax benefits, research monies and other government
expenditures to deal with GHG emissions must be available to all segments of the
population and their energy providers.
- If legislative proposals include a cap and trade program, policymakers must provide a
full allocation of credits to cooperatives and other non-profit energy providers. If we
are forced to go to an auction or market to buy legal permission to do what we
currently do to serve our members, our members will pay twice: first to buy credits,
and then to change our power supply options in the future. We believe auctions will
be open to financial manipulation by entities interested in speculative profit
opportunities, not public service, and would almost certainly result in unforeseen
consequences which will put rural America at risk. A full allocation of credits still
develops market forces that will require us to work to reduce our GHG output, but in
a manner that does not create financial disruption to our members.
Regardless of the outcome of legislation, Dairyland members have asked management to
continuously look for ways to reduce our emissions of GHG through adaptation of new
technology and improved operations and planning, bearing in mind the high concern for
safety and reliability. We have also committed our full support for research through
organizations such as the Cooperative Research Network and the Electric Power
Research Institute (EPRI). We believe the recent EPRI Prism study is a fundamentally
sound representation of the breadth and diversity of approaches necessary to meet this
challenge, including enhanced energy efficiency, expanded renewable resources, new
nuclear generation, advanced coal generation, expansion of plug-in hybrid vehicles and
new technologies of distributed generation.
In the upcoming debates on climate change, Dairyland pledges:
- To make our future strategic planning decisions with full awareness of the climate change issue, and to continuously work to develop those resources which have the
proper balance between reducing our GHG emissions and assuring reliable and
affordable electricity for our members.
To explain our involvement and actions on this issue to our Board and our
member-owners in a straight-forward manner that encourages individuals to
support our efforts and to get involved in the public policy debate.
To continue to view each legislative proposal through three important viewpoints
– impact on the environment, impact on system reliability and impact on
affordability of power – and share those findings with our elected officials so they
fully understand the ramifications of their actions.
- To form alliances with other groups who share our basic principles in order to
more effectively broaden our voice in legislative arenas. In particular, we will
work closely with our statewide cooperative organizations and the National Rural
Electric Cooperative Association to have as much of a unified cooperative voice
as possible on this important issue.
- To monitor federal and state proposals on climate change, and educate our elected
officials concerning issues with pending proposals.
- To challenge elected and non-elected government officials, as well as other
proponents of GHG reduction to provide quantification of the impacts of
anticipated changes in global climate, including time frames and costs for their
proposed climate change initiatives.
We must work together on this challenging issue to meet environmental concerns and to
do so in the most sensible, responsible, intelligent and fair way for our cooperative
members, who depend on Dairyland Power, their electricity supplier, to provide their
daily energy needs to ensure an opportunity for healthy lives, economic security and