Sutherland Coop Law Blog
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Dairyland Receives White House Invitation

Nominated by the Rural Utilities Service, officials of Dairyland Power Cooperative will head to the White House for recognition of the coop’s ongoing efforts to promote and develop renewable energy projects.  Approximately 13 percent of Dairyland’s energy resources are comprised of renewable sources, which exceeds state renewable energy requirements.  Read more here.
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SMECO Plans Another Solar Project

Southern Maryland Electric Cooperative (SMECO) recently announced a new 20-year power purchase agreement under which it will purchase the full output of the planned 10-MW Rockfish Solar Facility.  As it did with several previous projects, SMECO teamed up with the National Renewables Cooperative Organization to request project proposals and evaluate bidders.  Click here for more information.
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EKPC to Deactivate Coal Plant

East Kentucky Power Cooperative (EKPC), a Kentucky generation and transmission cooperative, has announced its plans to deactivate one of its coal plants over the next year.  None of the plant’s four coal-fired units currently meets the requirements imposed by the Environmental Protection Agency’s Mercury and Air Toxics Standards (MATS) rule, and the changes required to bring them into compliance are not economically justified.  The plant, whose units began operating between 1954 and 1960, is EKPC’s oldest.  Click here for...
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Utilities Feel Effects of Rail Disruptions

On April 10, representatives for companies that rely on rail shipments appeared at a Surface Transportation Board (STB) hearing to highlight the problems that recent rail shipment disruptions have caused in their industries and to ask STB to take steps to reduce these disruptions.  In the utility sector, delays in shipping coal could lead to higher costs for energy or a decrease in reliability of service.  Click here for more.
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EKPC to Purchase Methane for Power Generation

A landfill near Glasgow, Kentucky, is leasing land and selling methane gas to East Kentucky Power Cooperative (EKPC).  The coop plans to construct a power generation facility that will use the methane to generate enough energy to power approximately 500 homes.  The facility is being developed and constructed with a combination of grants from state and local programs as well as a loan from the U.S. Department of Agriculture’s Rural Economic Development Loan and Grant Program.  Click here for the full...
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Colorado Coop’s Energy Audit REAPs Success

Gunnison County Electric Association used a grant from the Rural Energy for America Program (REAP) to implement an energy audit program for local small businesses.  The program ran from 2010-2012 and demonstrated how important low energy costs can be for small businesses.  REAP offers cost-sharing grants and loan guarantees. Two additional REAP funding announcements are expected in 2014.  Read more here.
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Coop Pension Bill Now Law

President Obama recently signed into law the Cooperative and Small Employer Charity Pension Flexibility Act, which provides coops in the Retirement Security Plan greater stability and lower cost pressures related to the Pension Protection Act of 2006.  To learn more about this development, click here.
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Bipartisan Support Builds for Size and Flexibility of RUS Lending Program

One hundred sixty-nine House members—89 Republicans and 80 Democrats—have voiced their support for the Obama Administration’s proposal to set funding of the Rural Utilities Service (RUS) Electric Loan Program at $5 billion for fiscal year 2015.  However, they have also asked that the House agriculture appropriations subcommittee reject the Administration’s proposal to earmark as much as $4 billion of that amount for renewable energy projects.  The group, in a letter delivered to the subcommittee’s chairman and ranking member, has expressed hope that RUS lending will “continue to...
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CoBank Donates to Energy Research Partnership

Oklahoma State University’s National Energy Solutions Institute and the Smart Energy Solutions Association will team up thanks to a $500,000 donation from CoBank, a national cooperative bank.  The partnership aims to connect energy research to the marketplace for real world application.  Click here for more information on this exciting opportunity.
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Michigan Coop to Switch to District-Specific Board of Directors

The members of Great Lakes Energy, an electric cooperative based in Boyne City, Michigan, have voted to adopt a bylaw amendment switching to district-based voting for board members.  The board will be elected by members residing in each of nine newly created districts.  To read more, click here.
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Vermont Net Metering Frees Customers to Install Solar Panels

Vermont Governor Peter Shumlin recently signed a new law that should help free customers of the state’s electric utilities and allow them to install solar panels on their homes.  Previous legislation mandated a cap on the state’s net metering program of 4% of a utility’s peak demand.  The new legislation increases this cap to 15%, allowing a greater number of Vermont customers access to the net metering program.  To read more about this story, click...
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New Mexico Coop Official Ousted by Trustees

In a move that is being contested as a violation of the coop’s rules, three trustees of the Mora-San Miguel Electric Cooperative voted to oust Alex Romero from his position as chief executive officer and general manager.  Romero and Board Chairman Diego Quintana are calling the action illegal and “a hostile takeover.”  Click here for an explanation of the vote and the potential reasons for it.
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North Dakota Sees Rapid Electric Coop Growth

North Dakota’s rural economic development is being sparked by the state’s oil and gas boom, which is benefiting electric coops.  The Public Service Commission in the state has now approved two additional units for a Basin Electric Power Cooperative power plant.  These two units will add 90 MW of capacity by late 2014, a much needed step towards keeping up with the unprecedented load growth in the area.  For more information on this plant and the transmission needs to accommodate its new capacity, click...
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Texas Coop Settles Suits from 2011 Labor Day Fire

Texas-based Bluebonnet Electric Cooperative (Bluebonnet), which was accused of negligence in one of the most destructive fires in Texas history, has settled a number of lawsuits filed as a result of the 2011 Labor Day fire.  The fire, which burned about 34,000 acres and resulted in two deaths, was caused when fallen trees knocked down Bluebonnet power lines, sparking a wildfire, according to a Texas Forest Service report.  Bluebonnet is also pursuing a case of its own against the tree-trimming company charged with maintaining vegetation along its power lines.  For information on the...
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