Dairyland Power Cooperative Return to regular view

Original Story URL:
http://www.dairynet.com/environment/climate_position.php


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 desired results.

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:

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:

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 general well-being.