Tuesday, October 2, 2007

South Carolina's Electric Cooperatives Show Leadership: You've Got the Power

Yesterday, South Carolina's electric cooperatives, which provide power for over 700,000 South Carolinians in every county in the state, announced a major energy efficiency and renewable energy initiative.

They also released two landmark studies on the potential for energy efficiency and renewables in this state. The studies show what many in the state have long believed: efficiency and renewables are NOT theoretical options for the future. Instead, they offer REAL and PRACTICAL alternatives TODAY to traditional energy sources, such as coal.

For instance, the studies show that as much as 20% of the Cooperatives' customers’ power needs can be met with energy efficiency programs. Further, nearly 5% of need can be met through renewable energy. Together, this amounts to nearly 1700 MW of savings within 10 years (Santee Cooper's plans for a new coal plant in the Pee Dee region call for 1200 MW, and the Cooperatives are their #1 customer!).

The Cooperatives rightly point out that they cannot do this alone and that achieving these potentials will not be easy. The Cooperatives should be commended by all for taking this bold initiative and showing such farsighted leadership. The data uncovered by their studies and the initiatives that stem from them deserve the broadest support. If South Carolina's citizens, regulators, and political representatives all prioritize efficiency and renewables as the Cooperatives have shown a willingness to do, then the state will have its 1700 MW of clean energy within a decade.

From this morning's Post and Courier:

South Carolina residents can cut their electricity use by about a third and state utilities can get at least 3 percent of their power from renewable sources, according to two studies released Monday by the state's 20 electric cooperatives.

The cooperatives, nonprofit groups that serve 1.6 million South Carolina residents, touted these numbers while announcing a commitment to spend $10 million a year — roughly 1 percent of their revenue — on renewable energy and programs to help their members cut electricity use.

"This is pretty major," said Ron Calcaterra, chief executive officer of the Central Electric Power Cooperative. "And quite frankly, it's more than anyone else in the state is doing right now."

The money will bankroll a subsidy program to install 7 million ultra-efficient compact fluorescent lights in South Carolina homes over the next 10 years.

"The choice for us is very simple: Either we send the money to coal miners in West Virginia or we give it to our customers to use less energy," Calcaterra said.

read more

No comments: