July 1, 2009

A reminder

Elizabeth Weems, chairwoman of the League of Women Voters of Horry County, wrote a great opinion editorial for The Sun News almost two weeks ago. Lately so many of the blog posts have concerned various coal issues from around the country, not that they aren't important, but we need to remember what we are standing against: Santee Cooper's efforts to construct a coal plant in the Pee Dee region. The new coal plant will bring higher rates. South Carolinians will essentially pay more to pollute. Why pay more? And why pay to pollute in the first place? Weems' op-ed explains why Santee Cooper will hike its rates and why doing so is not needed.

The Sun News
Santee Cooper rate hike isn't necessary
Elizabeth Weems
June 20, 2009

Santee Cooper has announced that it intends to raise residential electricity rates 15 percent over the next two years, with the increase in effect through 2012. Santee Cooper says the rate increase is needed because revenue requirements exceed revenue. After 13 years of no increases it is not surprising that they need to raise rates, or is it?

Santee Cooper plans to build a $2 billion coal plant that will use approximately 12,000 tons of coal daily. The cost of coal has increased significantly over the last several years, and coming federal legislation will put a price on carbon emissions produced from burning coal. All of this adds up to continuous rate increases for years to come.

Santee Cooper does have alternatives to a new coal plant. They can increase their investment in efficiency programs. They say they will invest $110 million through 2020 in efficiency. That's less than 1 percent of the cost of the coal plant.

Efficiency is the cheapest and fastest way to decrease energy demand. Broad-based efficiency programs, which include retrofitting substandard homes with increased insulation, better seals and energy efficient appliances, will decrease energy demand and increase local jobs.

Increased energy efficiency will give the state-owned utility time to bring on line alternative fuel sources like offshore wind, solar and small
natural gas plants.

Implementation of greater energy efficiency across Santee Cooper's entire customer base may not stop today's proposed rate increase, but it will decrease tomorrow's risks by decreasing the utility's dependence on coal and its short and long-term costs. A decision against coal is a decision in favor of Santee Cooper's customers, the health of the state's citizens and the environment. It's time for ratepayers to say no to coal.

I live in Horry County and pay for my electricity from Horry Electric Company. The League of Women Voters has called for a moratorium on coal-fired power plants because, currently, there is no technology to prevent mercury and carbon emissions into the air. These toxic emissions contribute to global warming and public health safety.

To read the article, click here

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