County Electric Cooperative General Manager Debbie Robinson and Frankie King, President of
Upshur Rural Electric Corporation and Northeast Texas Electric Cooperative, Inc., attended and
testified at the EPA “Listening Session” in Dallas, Texas on November 7
. The EPA was
seeking input and ideas from the public and stakeholders on Clean Air Act approaches to
reducing carbon pollution from existing power plants.
Several individual East Texas cooperative managers spoke at the session in hopes of making
clear their concerns regarding possible changes to current regulations on the usage of power
plants for members’ needs. While the EPA has not proposed new rules governing carbon from
existing plants, it is anticipated the EPA will release a draft rule by June of 2014.
According to Edd Hargett, General Manager of ETEC, “Unfortunately, ETEC is currently facing a
regulatory assault on its ability to provide economic power to its members. Compliance with
existing and anticipated regulations of power plant emissions could cost ETEC approximately
$100 million dollars, which would translate to approximately $30 on the typical residential
customer’s monthly electric bill.”
Co-ops typically serve a rural membership outside of the urban areas of the state. Often such
customers are expensive to serve, as they are far-flung and small in number. In their testimony
at the EPA session, cooperative officials presented the unified message that many of their
members/customers are living on fixed incomes, and have limited options for outside
employment in their locales.
As Frankie King, President of Upshur Rural Electric Cooperative, testified, “Consumers have
elected me and others to make sure their electric power needs are met reliably and as low a
cost as possible. They are the people the President repeatedly claims to want to help the most.
They are the poor people without meaningful jobs or no jobs at all, retired people on fixed
incomes, the hard working middle class, farmers, ranchers and small business owners trying to
scratch out a living month to month in very difficult economic times.”
Consequently, electric cooperative customers are less likely to be able to support rate increases
incurred by new regulations or requirements on existing power plants.
Representatives of East Texas electric cooperatives presented their testimony at the EPA
session to urge federal regulators to avoid adopting new regulations that would greatly add to
the cost of electric power for many Texans who cannot afford to pay higher utility bills.
“What would we like to see EPA do? First, consider the cost implications for electric consumers.
Then, hold off on passing regulations that shut down coal plants before a proven and available
technology is developed. Give utilities time to react to regulations to prevent the financial harm
to our economy and the people we serve,” said Debbie Robinson, ETEC Board President and
general manager of Wood County Electric Cooperative.
About East Texas Electric Cooperative
ETEC is a not-for-profit electric generation and transmission cooperative headquartered in
Nacogdoches, Texas. ETEC’s mission is to provide low cost, reliable power to its approximately
320,000 member owners located in 46 East Texas counties. ETEC is made up of 10 not-for-
profit electric distribution cooperatives: Bowie-Cass Electric Cooperative, Cherokee County
Electric Cooperative, Deep East Texas Electric Cooperative, Houston County Electric
Cooperative, Jasper-Newton Electric Cooperative, Panola-Harrison Electric Cooperative, Rusk
County Electric Cooperative Association, Sam Houston Electric Cooperative, Upshur Rural
Electric Cooperative and Wood County Electric Cooperative. http://www.etec.coop/index.html.
About Northeast Texas Electric Cooperative
Headquartered in Longview, Texas, NTEC was founded in 1972. It is a not-for-profit electric
generation and transmission cooperative with140,118 members. Its member cooperatives are
Bowie-Cass EC, Deep East Texas EC, Panola-Harrison EC, Rusk Co. EC, Upshur Rural EC,
and Wood Co. EC.