Sutherland Coop Law Blog
content top

Department of Energy and NRECA Name 2014 Wind Coops of the Year

The Energy Department and the National Rural Electric Cooperative Association (NRECA) named the Tri-State Generation and Transmission Association  and San Isabel Electric Association of Colorado as the 2014 Wind Cooperatives of the Year.  For more information on the significant contributions these coops made to the wind energy industry, see the Energy Department’s press release.
Continue Reading

Cooperative Bank Makes Large Donation to the NRECA International Foundation

CoBank, a national cooperative bank, recently donated $250,000 to the National Rural Electric Cooperative (NRECA) International Foundation.  The donation made by CoBank will support the Foundation’s mission of providing electrification to some of the world’s poorest regions.  Click here to read more.
Continue Reading

NRECA Urges FERC to Limit EPA’s Clean Power Plan

The National Rural Electric Cooperative Association (NRECA), a group representing over 900 private, not-for-profit electric cooperatives in the U.S., has urged the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission (FERC) to limit the impact of the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency’s (EPA) proposed Clean Power Plan.  The proposal calls for cuts in carbon dioxide emissions from existing facilities, using 2005 levels as a baseline in reaching the 30 percent goal.  Environmentalists say the plan is necessary to help stop global warming while industry organizations say the plan is an economic burden,...
Continue Reading

TCEQ Reassumes Texas Permitting Duties from EPA.

For the past two years, the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) has handled permitting duties in Texas while the state has worked on implementing its own program.  On Thursday the EPA issued its last federal greenhouse gas permit in Texas and transferred the remaining applications to the Texas Commission on Environmental Quality (TCEQ) to handle the permitting going forward.  The TCEQ now has sole authority to issue Prevention of Significant Deterioration permits for conventional regulated air pollutants and greenhouse gases.  Read more here (subscription...
Continue Reading

Decreased Coal Prices Do Not Equal Increased Consumption

The Energy Information Administration (EIA) has released an analysis related to the use of coal for the electric utility industry in 2014.  The annual average price of coal declined in 2014 and the EIA expects the price to remain relatively static over the next two years.  However, the EIA is also expecting a 1.5 percent drop in power sector coal consumption in 2015.  To read more about this story, please click here.
Continue Reading

Coops Pleased as EPA Reaffirms NDDH Plan to Reduce Regional Air Pollution

Minnkota Power Cooperative and Basin Electric Power Cooperative received good news last week as the EPA reaffirmed the plan of North Dakota Department of Health (NDDH) to reduce regional haze and ruled that the equipment of both plants meets all environmental requirements.  NDDH’s plan must be updated again in 2018 and then again every several years until 2064.  Please click here to read more.
Continue Reading

Basin Electric Focuses on Long-Term Needs as Oil and Gas Prices Remain Low

Basin Electric Power Cooperative (Basin Electric) continues to focus on the long-term needs of its members, particularly those active in the Bakken oil and gas fields, as oil and gas prices remain low.  Energy price declines remain ongoing, but Basin Electric is looking at new projects to ensure reliable service to the region for the foreseeable future. Click here to read more.
Continue Reading

Electric Coops See Rise in Sales and Customer Base

According to a recent report, electric coops led the electric utility industry in terms of sales and customer growth in 2013 with almost a 3.1 percent increase in retail sales and 1.2 percent increase in residential customers.  Weather and economic conditions were among the reasons for the jump. Click here for more information.
Continue Reading

Solar Farm Generates More Power Than Initially Projected

The Colleton Solar Farm, located on a 15-acre site near Walterboro, South Carolina, completed its first year of commercial operations on December 20.  The solar farm generated about 5 percent more power than initially projected, which is believed to be due to placing more than 40 percent of the solar panels on pivotal mounts that track the sun as it moves across the sky.  Central Electric Power Cooperative, the Columbia-based G&T, and Santee Cooper, South Carolina’s state-owned power provider, purchase power from the solar farm, which is owned by a private developer.  Click here to...
Continue Reading

Arkansas Electric Plans to Build State’s Largest Solar Farm

Arkansas Electric Cooperative Corporation (Arkansas Electric) has signed an agreement to build what will be the largest solar farm in the State of Arkansas.  Silicon Ranch Corporation will build and manage the facility, which will be located on a 100-acre parcel in East Camden.  The facility’s 12-megawatt output will power a manufacturing facility as well as 2,400 single-family homes.  Click here for more.
Continue Reading

Obama Administration Seeks $6 Billion Budget for RUS Program with Similar Previously-Rejected Restrictions on Lending

The Obama administration is pursuing a $6 billion budget for the Rural Utilities Service (RUS) Electric Loan program’s 2016 fiscal year, a $500 million increase over the program’s 2015 fiscal year.  Reflecting the administration’s goal of phasing out fossil fuel subsidies, this budget has allocated $3 billion for environmental updates to existing fossil-fuel plants and another $3 billion for renewable energy generation, transmission and distribution. Please click here to read...
Continue Reading

Utility Groups Urge Eighth Circuit to Uphold Ruling against Minnesota’s NGEA

Passed in 2007, in an effort to combat climate change, Minnesota’s Next Generation Energy Act (NGEA) prohibits any new power sources that, after offsetting reductions elsewhere, produce or supply 50 or more MWs and increase carbon dioxide emissions from being added to Minnesota’s energy mix.  Utility groups claim that the law violates the dormant Commerce Clause by extending the state’s regulatory reach into neighboring states. A Minnesota federal judge ruled the law unconstitutional in April and the utility groups have requested the Eighth Circuit to uphold the lower court’s...
Continue Reading

NRECA Urges EPA to Maintain Current Ozone Standard

The US Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) has proposed additional restrictions on ozone standards.  The newer standards would be very costly to power plants, which might require owners to choose between implementing expensive emissions controls for coal and natural gas-fired units or shutting such units down.  Carol Whitman, senior environmental principal at the National Rural Electric Cooperative Association, pointed out that the Obama administration had affirmed the current standard issued in 2008 as “adequately protective of human health” and asserts that the EPA’s proposal goes...
Continue Reading

Texas Distribution Cooperative Peaking Plant Under Construction

San Bernard Electric Cooperative (SBEC) and Sky Global Partners, LLC recently broke ground on a new gas-fired peaking power plant north of Rock Island, Texas.  The facility is unique in that it will be the first power generation facility owned by a distribution cooperative in the state of Texas.  To read more about this story, please click here.
Continue Reading