Co-op hydro-power at risk under new DOE scheme

Dear Member:

For more than 70 years electric cooperatives have had a special relationship with our nation’s Power Marketing Administrations (PMAs), including the Bonneville Power Administration (BPA), which market the electricity generated at federal dams. Those dams and the energy they produce serve millions of Americans from the Deep South to the Pacific Northwest. From the outset the dams have been critically important to co-op served communities—providing flood control, recreation and electric power. As public works projects the dams had the benefit of paying for themselves by selling the electricity they generated. This was made possible due to the willingness of local people, through their electric cooperatives and municipal utilities, to pay higher than market rates over an extended period of time.

Electric cooperatives like Horry Electric Cooperative, Inc. exist to provide affordable, reliable electric power and help members solve problems. A proposal by U.S. Secretary of Energy Steven Chu to alter the PMAs, could threaten our ability to achieve this goal. In March, Sec. Chu served notice that PMAs would serve as laboratories to test various energy initiatives.

Electric cooperative members like you would bear this additional cost while consumers elsewhere would receive any benefits. The Board and I, along with many other co-ops in our state, don’t believe this is fair. We are working to ensure that the people who receive the benefits pay the costs—just like the founders of Horry Electric Cooperative, Inc. agreed to do so many years ago. I will keep you informed of any changes as we work to resolve this matter.

Sincerely,

James P. “Pat” Howle
Executive Vice President and CEO

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