Among the challenges facing the electric utility industry today is the need to address climate change. Increased energy efficiency and conservation, combined with alternative fuels and technology, will all play a role in reducing carbon dioxide emissions and dependence on traditional fuels.
Efforts to make significant improvements in clean-coal technology are underway because coal is still among the most reliable and affordable sources of baseload power. Indeed, coal is the source of about 50 percent of our nation's electricity. Rural electric cooperatives, owned by the consumers they serve, recognize the need to dramatically reduce carbon dioxide emissions without huge run ups in electric rates.
The Electric Power Research Institute (EPRI) earlier this year released a study on how technology can reduce the cost of cutting carbon dioxide emissions while meeting the growing demand for electrical power. While much of the technology still needs to be developed for efficient commercial use, EPRI points out that energy efficiency and renewable energy projects are the first steps to reduce carbon dioxide emissions.
"Rural electric cooperatives are among the leaders in the electric utility industry when it comes to implementing innovative alternative energy programs," says James Andrew, administrator of USDA Rural Development's Rural Utilities Program. "Cooperatives are owned by their …