Posted: Jul 18, 2012 10:48 PM by David Jay
BILLINGS - Some Montana Rural electric co-ops say the price of electricity could increase. if the Western Area Power Administration (WAPA) implements restructuring, that includes renewable energy.
The Department of Energy (DOE) and WAPA held a listening session, Wednesday night at the Holiday Inn.
Secretary of Energy Steven Chu says America's competitiveness depends on a 21st Century grid.
On March 16, the Secretary issued a memorandum, that outlined restructuring of the DOE's Power Marketing Administrations such as WAPA and Bonneville Power.
Many of those testifying, came from rural areas and represented electric co-operatives.
Some say the use of renewable energy such as solar and wind energy, will add to the cost of electricity.
They also says a provision requiring everyone in the country pay the same price...would unfairly burden rate payers in Montana.
The DOE says the WAPA system that needs repair.
"You have a lot of things changing in your industry and you all have to respond," said Lauren Azar, senior adviser to the secretary.
"The rise of renewable energy holds a great promise in delivering on all of the laudable goals," said Jeff Fox, Montana Policy Manager for the Renewable Northwest Project.
"The reliability that we have (with WAPA) is second to none in the world," said Ray Ellis, General Manager of Lincoln Electric.
"Now all of the sudden we're told all of this is going to be run out of Washington, DC," said Allen Thiessen, president of the Lower Yellowstone Rural Electric Association. "And the rates are going to be determined there probably."
The Secretary says the plan would ensure safe, reliable and affordable energy.
The Rural co-ops say the plan is a solution looking for a problem.