Bismarck, N.D., November 4, 2010 — In his report to Basin Electric’s membership on Nov. 3, Ron Harper, CEO and general manager of Basin Electric, a Bismarck, N.D.-based regional cooperative, said he is frustrated by all the uncertainty and disconnect in developing a clear energy future for this country.
“I wish I could stand before you today and say that we have more certainty today, but we all know that isn’t so,” he told a gathering of more than 800 member system representatives and guests at Basin Electric‘s 49th annual meeting. “In short, this nation has no long-term energy policy.”
Harper said many attempts have been made to pass energy legislation, but have fizzled in process.
“Without a definitive national energy policy, developing new generating facilities — whether it’s a coal-based plant or a renewable project — is more challenging than ever,” he said. “We need a clear and solid energy policy that will create a path for domestic energy development (including coal). Without it, the United States and our fellow utilities will put little substantial effort toward clean energy development.”
Even without a national plan, Harper said Basin Electric has been successful. “We’re blazing our own energy path. We have made significant strides to diversify our energy portfolio in recent years, along with taking on innovative projects that have could have very positive implications for this nation’s energy future.”
Without a national energy policy, Harper says the Environmental Protection Agency will continue to move forward with (increasingly restrictive) regulations that will impact energy development and will bring future energy supply into question.
“EPA regulation will not deal with energy security. I’ve heard Congress and others talk about the importance of energy security. I couldn’t agree more. We have domestic, low-cost and reliable energy sources right here in our country—from coal to wind to coal bed methane to natural gas and more,” he said.
“Yet, I see a tremendous disconnect here. We live in a country where we spend $300 billion a year on oil that’s going to countries who are on our “ËœNo Travel’ list by the Department of State. This is the same country that is trying to impose stringent (EPA) regulations on a domestic source of energy to the point where it may be impossible to operate our existing units, let alone develop new coal-based units. And still, we continue to talk about our need for energy security. If it (energy security) doesn’t include a viable path for our home-grown resources, then what does this mean?”
Harper also said that proposed EPA regulations are specifically aimed at eliminating coal as an energy source. “It’s domestic, it’s abundant, and it’s low-cost. In fact, the United States has 262 billion tons of recoverable coal reserves, according to the Energy Information Administration—that’s a 235-year supply of energy right here in this country.”
Over the past several years, Basin Electric has developed a diversified energy portfolio that includes wind, natural gas, renewables and coal. It generates and transmits electricity to 136 member rural electric systems in nine states: Colorado, Iowa, Minnesota, Montana, Nebraska, New Mexico, North Dakota, South Dakota, and Wyoming. These member systems distribute electricity to about 2.8 million consumers.