Arlington, VA.; March 16, 2012 – National Rural Electric Cooperative Association CEO Glenn English issued the following statement today with regard to a memo from Department of Energy Secretary Steven Chu to the leaders of America’s four Power Marketing Administrations (PMAs).
America’s electric cooperatives are concerned about the potential impact on consumers of the proposals listed in Secretary Chu’s memo of March 16th, 2012 to PMA administrators. These proposals could have the practical effect of increasing electric bills for millions of co-op members.
PMAs have been a model for productive public-private partnerships since their inception; the federal government built dams to control flooding and promote development and electric co-ops agreed to purchase the power generated at those dams on long-term contracts. The pact made in those early years was simple: co-ops would pay above market rates for power in exchange for a secure, reliable supply of electricity. Power customers continue to repay the federal investment in those facilities in their cost-based rates, and the partnership remains intact.
In his memo, Secretary Chu has outlined a plan to radically alter that relationship, envisioning a future in which the PMAs serve as expensive laboratories to test Washington’s fluctuating energy and economic initiatives. NRECA and our member cooperatives support many of the Administration’s goals related to energy efficiency, cybersecurity, and renewable energy but we remain skeptical of this plan to alter fundamentally the partnership between electric cooperatives and the PMAs. Over the years, Congress has rejected many such misguided proposals.
I look forward to next week’s hearing before the House Natural Resources Committee, Subcommittee on Water and Power where the issue is sure to receive an initial public vetting.
The National Rural Electric Cooperative Association is the national service organization that represents the nation’s more than 900 private, not-for-profit, consumer-owned electric cooperatives, which provide service to 42 million people in 47 states.