Randy Haymaker spoke only two days before shocking emails were released, seeming to indicate that certain groups and individuals conspired over nearly two decades to hoist the Greenhouse Gas Emissions travesty upon everyone. Likely his opinion hasn't changed however. He's a realist, and it's quite likely he doesn't expect Congress to back away from passing Cap and Trade - type legislation at some point next year. It was recently announced that the Senate wouldn't consider it until next spring.
Depending upon who you talk to, cap and trade is everything and anything from a legitimate pollution-control bill to a huge tax increase bill built around a giant hoax- the threat from global warming, and the supposed connection of increasing carbon dioxide levels to greenhouse gases.
Haymaker represents Hoosier Energy, a large electrical co-operative in Indiana. The co-op operates a coal-fired generation station to produce electricity. The plant is located near Merom in west-central Indiana.
"We feel coal-fired electricity producing states like Indiana would take the biggest hit, he says. "We've had one of the lowest, most competitive electricity rates in the Midwest. Since coal is linked to emissions, this bill would hurt us more than it would hurt utilities in many other states."
The bill is basically a system of allowances for carbon, with phase-in requirements that would lead electricity producers and others in the energy market to invest in lowering carbon levels over time. These allowances, for the short term, would mean they could buy carbon credits from those who sequester carbon, including carbon. Price for these credits has been tossed out as anything from $10 to $100 per unit.
While some farmers might gain by being able to sell carbon credits, they would also face rising electrical costs caused by other changes required in the legislation.
Some investor owned utilities operating in Indiana publicly support the bill, but when pressed, actually say it's the lesser of two evils. Since a court ruling in '07 said that the U.S. must meet clean air standards, then someone will see that this is done. If it's not Congress, the Environmental Protection Agency is fully expected to move ahead with its' own regulations. Often, they tend to be much tougher than what might be imposed by law.
The biggest factor for utilities that need to make investments in facilities right now is that planners at those companies need a firm understanding of what will be required in the future. That will allow them to make decisions, and plan accordingly. In otherwords, they need firm rules in place. The best they can hope to do is have a seat at the table during discussions, helping shape those policies so that they are as least damaging as possible. So far, reps form two public utilities serving Indiana say they've been able to do that. The House version of the bill is much less frightening than what was originally proposed. Unfortunately, the Senate version is still filled with some dangerous language, they note.
Haymaker of REMC says the co-op looks at things differently because they currently don't need to build power plants, and don't expect to within the next decade and beyond. In fact, he's promoting conservation programs to help customers use less electricity. It makes more sense once you realize that the biggest cost to any utility is investing in plants. If they can avoid doing so for the foreseeable future, then they can keep their costs down.