LYONS, NEBRASKA – Rural communities may be on a path to higher electric rates if they fail to restructure over $7 billion in debt tied to coal production, according to findings in a new fact sheet. “Rural Electrification 2.0—a Clean Energy Economy,” was released today by the Center for Rural Affairs, in partnership with Clean Up the River Environment (CURE) Minnesota and We Own It.
The fact sheet highlights public and economic pressure for electric cooperatives to transition from fossil fuels to clean energy. The publication cites a 2018 national survey of electric cooperative customers where 70 percent of respondents said, “In the near future, we should produce 100 percent of our electricity from renewable sources like solar and wind.”
“In addition to the benefits brought forth by reducing our carbon emissions, restructuring co-op debt would lead to a myriad of economic benefits,” said Johnathan Hladik, policy director at the Center for Rural Affairs. “As we move toward a clean energy economy, production systems like wind and solar bring new jobs and generate significant tax revenue for the communities that host them.”
Cooperatives in Arkansas, Colorado, Iowa, Minnesota, New Mexico, and North Carolina are highlighted for their leadership on setting clean energy goals. One example includes a New Mexico cooperative that has committed to produce 100 percent solar powered energy for its customers in the summer season by 2022.
“Many challenges remain for rural electric co-ops to shift to renewable energy generation,” Hladik said. “However, as clean energy development becomes increasingly cost effective, rural co-ops must look seriously at how setting renewable goals can set them up for success.”
For more information about the restructuring of coal debt for electric cooperatives and to view the fact sheet, visit cfra.org/publications.