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A Heads Up to Look Down

Article was added on Friday, July 03, 2009

Our Energy, Our FutureWhen promoting overhead power line safety, electric cooperatives always say, "Look up and live." These days, however, we have a new message: "Look down."

This time, we're talking to our nation's leaders. Why? As Glenn English, CEO of the National Rural Electric Cooperative Association recently noted, "We're standing at the edge of a cliff and our lawmakers are oblivious to the fact the cliff even exists."

The "cliff" is a looming crisis in electric generation capacity. In other words, we're close to running short of power. As English says, Congress is devoting attention to vague climate change targets and goals for 75 to 100 years from now at the expense of fundamental, immediate issues such as "where and how will we get the power we need -- and how will be pay for it?"

Climate change legislation as proposed could leave "an entire segment of our society" unable to pay skyrocketing power bills, English says.

The Department of Energy forecasts that the nation will need almost 120,000 megawatts of additional power in the next 10 years, English says. Here in South Carolina, one of the fastest growing states, the electric co-ops and our chief power supplier, the state-owned utility Santee Cooper, will need 1,704 additional megawatts in the next decade.

Unfortunately, experts agree that an important element in most climate change proposals, commercially available carbon dioxide capture and storage technologies, will not be ready by then. (FYI: Carbon dioxide, or CO2, is one of the "greenhouse gases" that trap heat in the Earth's atmosphere, which most scientists agree causes our atmosphere to become warmer. This contributes to "global warming" or "climate change.")

Fortunately, as English notes, electric co-ops are well-suited to play a role in the energy debate. Co-ops nationwide speak for more than 40 million members. "Others will not speak out," he said, "but electric cooperatives in this nation have a long history of looking after our members. They have a long history of doing what's right for our country."

Being a co-op, Santee Electric Cooperative always involves its members. To get involved in the energy debate if you haven't already, click on the "Our Energy, Our Future" link on our home page. The information you provide will help elected officials keep our country on sure footing, energy-wise.

As always, we're looking out for you. With your help, we can get our leaders to "look down" before we step off the cliff.

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