Sutherland Coop Law Blog
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Coops React to Rare Bird’s Status as a Threatened Species

Some electric cooperatives are unhappy about the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service’s decision to list the Gunnison sage-grouse as a threatened species, which entitles the rare bird to protection under the Endangered Species Act.  The ground-dwelling bird resides in southwestern Colorado and southeastern Utah and has a population of less than 5,000.  Electric coops in the bird’s territory are determining whether they can operate effectively under the agency’s decision, which includes a rule that could provide some exemptions for some affected parties.  Click here for the full...
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EPA Clean Power Plan Raises Reliability Concerns, Says NERC

The North American Electric Reliability Corporation (NERC) has released its first assessment of the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency’s Clean Power Plan.  In its report NERC identified several reliability challenges posed by the proposed rule, including the need for significant infrastructure requirements and pipeline expansions to maintain reliability.  To read more please click here.
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CoBank Names New Senior VP—Electric Distribution, Water and Community Facilities

CoBank has named Nivin Elgohary as its Senior Vice President, Electric Distribution, Water, and Community Facilities.  Elgohary previously served as Assistant Administrator with the Rural Utilities Service.  To read more about this story please click here.
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ERCOT Report Predicts Rise in Prices under EPA Power Plant Rule

The Electric Reliability Council of Texas (ERCOT) published a report analyzing certain potential effects of the Environmental Protection Agency’s proposed Clean Power Plan, which limits greenhouse gas emissions from existing power plants.  Among other things, the report provides different estimates of the various increases in locational marginal prices based on different emissions scenarios.  For more on ERCOT’s report, click here.
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Shots Fired at Pennsylvania Coop’s Substation

On November 5 gunfire struck a substation of Pennsylvania’s Northwestern Rural Electric Cooperative, causing a mineral oil leak and other damage that will require around $250,000 to repair and remediate.  Police are investigating the incident.  Click here for more.
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Great River Energy Burns Lignite More Efficiently

Minnesota-based Great River Energy (GRE) can now burn lignite coal more efficiently, thanks to a moisture-reduction process.  Because of its high moisture content, lignite has traditionally been used only at “mine-mouth” plants located close to a production source, but a newly-patented refining process allows lignite to produce more energy and to be transported before use.  Click here for more on this story.
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SMECO Completes Reliability Upgrades

Southern Maryland Electric Cooperative (SMECO) recently completed a line upgrade project to boost reliability, which included running a line under the Patuxent River.  Click here for a Nov. 25, 2013 Sutherland posting concerning this subject. Click here for a recent story.
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Coops Concerned about Coal Transportation

Electric cooperatives are expressing concern that railroads may fail to deliver all the coal necessary to meet winter’s heating demand.  The National Rural Electric Cooperative Association’s CEO, joined by other industry leaders, has reached out to the Surface Transportation Board (Board) to express these concerns and to request that the Board require BNSF Railway to provide a coal service recovery plan.  Click here for more.
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Southwest Power Pool to Integrate Basin Electric

The Federal Energy Regulatory Commission (FERC) has accepted a proposal from Southwest Power Pool (SPP) to significantly expand its geographic footprint in the Upper Great Plains region of the United States.  SPP’s proposal includes the integration of Basin Electric Power Cooperative, a portion of the Western Area Power Administration and Heartland Consumers Power District into SPP.  To read more, please click here.
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New Copper Theft Law Passes in in Pennsylvania

Pennsylvania recently passed a law imposing increased penalties for metal theft, including stronger penalties for repeat offenders.  The new law establishes three types of misdemeanors for metal theft under $1000, based on the value of items stolen.  If the value of the metal stolen exceeds $1000, the metal theft will constitute a third-degree felony.  If an individual is convicted of metal theft three times, the offense becomes a third-degree felony automatically, carrying a punishment of up to seven years in prison and/or a $15,000 fine.  Click here to read...
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North Dakota Coop Plans Large Increase in Wind Power

Basin Electric Power Cooperative says that it will double the power it derives from wind energy by 2016.  Basin is expecting its load to grow by more than 1,883 megawatts by 2035. Currently, the coop has 712.7 megawatts of wind generation. Basin plans to purchase power from other generators to increase that number to 1,400 megawatts of wind generation over the next two years. The Bismarck Tribune has the full story here.
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Tri-State Predicts Increased Load Growth

On Friday Tri-State Generation and Transmission (Tri-State) filed a resource plan update with state regulators, forecasting load growth at a rate that is faster than previously expected.  If growth occurs at such rates, Tri-State indicated that it would utilize several options to secure increased capacity and stated that it has made no firm commitments on timing, size or location of new conventional power plants.  Tri-State did indicate that it would likely require more transmission facilities to support future renewable generation projects. Click here to read...
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Iowa Coop Enters Solar Business

Western Iowa Power Coop has begun selling solar systems directly to its members. The move is intended to encourage members to contact the coop first for all solar installation needs and has provided a public relations boost for the coop. Click here for the full story.
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Oklahoma Coop Board Faces Overhaul

Shareholders of the Choctaw Electric Coop have signed a petition to remove all nine of the coop’s board members citing, among other things, mismanagement and inconsistent administration of coop policies. Click here to read more.
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