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Your Opinion: CWIP changes would create 'win-win'

Your Opinion: CWIP changes would create 'win-win'

September 28th, 2011 by Barry Hart, CEO, Association of Missouri Electric Cooperatives, Jefferson City in News

Dear Editor:

In a recent letter to the editor, "Don't change the CWIP law" the writer, while surely well intentioned, simply doesn't have all the facts. Or, maybe he has been listening to those who are only concerned about today and not about our future electricity needs and reliability?

Lessons learned during the "dark" days before Missouri's electric cooperatives owned our own generation facilities have taught us how crucial it is to make decisions now that will ensure adequate power supply in the future. Even without a crystal ball, we can be certain that use of electricity will grow, not slow down. In fact, our experts predict that sometime around 2023, demand for electricity will top the available supply.

As we look at the options for those "future watts," our choices will be few. Legislation and proposed EPA rules to limit carbon emissions makes investment in new coal-fired power plants unlikely, leaving natural gas and nuclear energy as our only around-the-clock reliable options.

That's why Missouri's electric cooperatives have joined in an unprecedented arrangement among all segments of the state's electric utility industry - cooperative, municipal and investor-owned - to preserve the nuclear energy option for Missouri.

Legislation introduced by Sen. Mike Kehoe and Rep. Jeannie Riddle last session would allow this arrangement to move forward by making it possible for investor-owned utilities to recover their costs in a timelier manner and reduce the total amount of the interest paid on money borrowed to obtain an early site permit for a nuclear plant. It was important to us that this legislation contained strong consumer protections and the sponsors agreed; including, numerous provisions.

Most of Missouri's leaders share our opinion that this legislation creates a "win-win" scenario for our state; however, special interest groups that use huge amounts of electricity, who are only concerned about today and are not interested in the long-term energy needs of the state's consumers and communities have come forward in opposition.

Preserving the nuclear energy option, whether we ultimately use it or not, is vital to ensure Missourians have affordable and reliable power well into the future and our state stays competitive in the effort to attract new businesses and jobs. We are thankful that Sen. Kehoe and Rep. Riddle share our understanding of what it will take for Missouri to have a reasonable energy plan for our future.