State and federal legislators are rushing to pass a carbon cap and trade bill that would place a tax on power providers which exceed a set amount of carbon emissions. This tax would come in the form of credits that would be traded much like stocks on Wall Street. Imagine if one company such as Enron or another Bernie Madoff would gain control of a majority of the credits. Would we have rolling blackouts such as California did when they tried deregulation? Note that almost all of this tax money would go straight into the general fund with very little allocated to alternative energy research and development.
To meet current EPA regulations and inflation, Beltrami Electric rates will increase over 32 percent in the next five years alone, without the cap and trade tax. As an example, this will increase the average $500 monthly heating bill of an elderly couple I know to $660.
Minnkota Power Cooperative, which supplies power to our local cooperative, will spend $360 million over a short five-year period to meet current EPA regulations.
Remember that there is not a big bad tobacco company that will pay this tax. It will be passed down to every consumer in the form of higher energy prices. If passed, this tax will be extremely difficult to budget for due to the volatility of the stock market. I strongly urge everyone to contact their representatives and ask them to oppose this legislation.
EDITOR'S NOTE: Terry Diffley is a member of the Beltrami Electric Cooperative Board of Directors.