Sutherland Coop Law Blog
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Green Power EMC Increases its Solar Portfolio

Green Power EMC announced Wednesday that it will buy the full output of a 52-MW solar farm in southeast Georgia for 30 years.  The solar farm is owned by Silicon Ranch Corp., which has previously leased the output of another of its solar facilities to Green Power.  Partnerships like these have allowed Green Power EMC to supply renewable energy to 38 other Georgia EMCs.  Click here to read more.
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Texas Coop Breaks Ground on New Hydroelectric Plant

The East Texas Electric Cooperative and Trinity River Authority of Texas recently broke ground on a new hydroelectric project. The Thomas Hydroelectric Project is located at Lake Livingston Dam and is expected to become operational in 2018.  Once online the new hydroelectric power plant will produce enough electricity to power 12,000 homes in East Texas.  Click here to read more.
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EPA Finalizes Definition of Waters to be Covered under the Clean Water Act

The Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) and Army Corps of Engineers finalized a redefinition of the “Waters of the U.S.” under the Clean Water Act.  The EPA did so without consulting stakeholders, including rural electric cooperatives.  The EPA maintains that it is not required to consult stakeholders, or to conduct small business analysis under the Regulatory Flexibility Act before it can redefine the term.  The National Rural Electric Cooperative Association (NRECA) expressed disappointment with the decision of the EPA and Army Corps of Engineers.  In a press release, NRECA stated...
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Electric Cooperatives Support Federal Right-of-Way Changes

The chief executive officers of Central Electric Cooperative and Missoula Electric Cooperative spoke before Congress to voice their support for right-of-way management of federal lands.  The issue has become increasingly important to electric cooperatives as dry conditions have increased the chances that fallen trees can spark wildfires capable of causing significant damage to poles and power lines.  Please click here to read more.
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SMEPA Terminates Power Purchase Agreement for Kemper Power Plant

South Mississippi Electric Power Association (SMEPA) has announced that it has pulled out of a deal with Mississippi Power to purchase 15 percent of the power generated by the Kemper County power plant, which is currently under construction.  SMEPA noted that its decision to terminate the purchase agreement was based on both the rising costs of electricity from the Kemper County plant due to increased construction costs and changes in SMEPA’s own power supply needs.  To read more about this story, please click...
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G&T Cooperatives Join DOE Grid Study

The Department of Energy (DOE) has invited two generation and transmission cooperatives, Great River Energy and Hoosier Energy, to join 15 other electric utilities in the Partnership for Energy Sector Climate Resilience to help strengthen the grid against extreme weather and impacts from climate change.  Read more about the Partnership’s goals here.
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Arkansas G&T Adds Wind to Portfolio

Arkansas Electric Cooperative Corporation has announced a long-term, sole-recipient agreement with the planned Drift Sand Wind Farm.  This 108 megawatt facility is expected to begin commercial operation by December 31, 2016.  To read more about this story, please click here.
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Fitch Ratings Study Finds that Cooperatives Must Adapt to Maintain Stable Credit Quality

A recent report by Fitch Ratings found that electrical cooperatives today face challenges created by changing technologies, slowing growth and changing consumer usage patterns.  These challenges will require that cooperatives find ways to adapt if they want to maintain strong credit quality in the A to AA range. For example, one adaptation made by many cooperatives has been to decouple their revenue from customer usage and move to a flat rate model.  Click here to read...
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Kit Carson Electric Cooperative Receives Top UTC Award

The Utilities Telecom Council (UTC) has awarded Kit Carson Electric Cooperative its highest honor, the 2015 Utilities Telecom & Technology APEX Award. Click here for more information.
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USDA Announces $100 million in Loans for Rural Electric Coop Utilities

Today the United States Department of Agriculture (USDA) announced $106.3 million in electric system infrastructure loans to rural electric cooperative utilities in four states.  The loans include $9 million for smart grid improvements.  The announcement comes during the 80th anniversary of the creation of the Rural Electrification Administration.  Click here for more information.
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Alaska Coop Becomes “Self-Generating”

Palmer, Alaska-based Matanuska Electric Association became “self-generating” on May 1 when its new 171-megawatt, gas-fired Eklutna Generating Station came online. Click here for more information.
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Indiana Levels the Playing Field for Electric Utilities

Indiana Governor Mike Pence recently signed Indiana’s electric service territory legislation. The legislation, which goes into effect later this month, will stop municipal electric utilities from seizing territory from both electric cooperatives and investor-owned utilities.  Before now, municipal electric utilities had the power to expand by seizing territory from other utilities, provided that they compensate the utility for the lost territory.  Unfortunately, however, compensation paid was below market value and ended after five years.  This policy resulted in municipal electric...
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Energy Information Administration Predicts Slowing Demand and Rising Prices for Electricity

The Energy Information Administration (EIA) forecasts U.S. demand for electricity to slow because of new energy-efficiency standards and costs to increase because new regulations will require additional equipment to replace retired power plants, leading to a predicted 18 percent increase in the average cost of electricity between 2013 and 2040.  Read more about the EIA forecast here.
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Minnesota Public Utilities Commission Approves Cooperatives’ Acquisition of Interstate Power & Light

On April 30, 2015 the Minnesota Public Utilities Commission (MPUC) approved the sale of Interstate Power & Light (IPL), a privately-owned utility, to 12 cooperative utilities for $112 million.  Most of the coops have higher electric rates than IPL, so the acquisition will mean higher prices for the 43,000 IPL customers, but the MPUC will monitor a plan that bars any increase in former IPL customers’ basic rates for three years and limits increases for two additional years. Read more about the sale here.
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