March 21, 2007 15:59 ET

Glenn English, National Rural Electric Cooperative Association CEO, Urges Straight Talk on Climate Change

LAS VEGAS, NV -- (MARKET WIRE) -- March 21, 2007 -- Glenn English, CEO of the National Rural Electric Cooperative Association, today told 11,000 co-op leaders that the technology does not yet exist to meet the very ambitious CO2 reduction goals being proposed in Congress. "There is a reality gap in Washington and across the country on this issue," said English. "We need to reach out to our elected officials -- lay out the technological challenges posed by their policy initiatives -- and work together to find real-world solutions.

The Electric Power Research Institute predicts that developing the new technologies necessary to make meaningful CO2 reductions will require an investment of billions in research; a recent MIT study concludes that widespread application of such technology is decades away. "Those timeline and investment projections seem at odds with the current congressional mindset," said English. "This expert opinion further demonstrates the challenge of squaring fact and perception."

English delivered his remarks to open the NRECA's 65th Annual Meeting and urged the assembled co-op leaders to engage on the important issue of climate change and not to shy away from straight talk. "We've got to find our footing in the shifting sands of this political debate," he said. "We have a very short time to close the reality gap and it's going to take a lot of straight talk to get Congress to recognize that achieving such ambitious goals will be neither easy nor cheap."

English observed that electric cooperatives are ahead of the curve in many respects, pointing out that member-owned co-ops are actively integrating distributed generation into their systems, lead the industry in deploying advanced, energy-saving automatic meter technology and currently distribute about 11% renewable power nationwide. "These initiatives coupled with increased efficiency can help keep rates down," he said. "Success in the future may not be measured in kilowatt hours sold but in kilowatt hours saved."

More than 11,000 representatives from cooperative electric utilities across the nation are attending the NRECA Annual Meeting, March 20-22, at the Las Vegas Convention Center, during which they will set NRECA's legislative and organizational agenda for 2007. In addition to considering and acting upon policy resolutions, delegates receive reports from NRECA officials, hear addresses by key public figures and business experts, and attend panel sessions on major issues affecting electric cooperatives and their consumer owners.

NRECA is the national service organization that represents the nation's more than 900 private, not-for-profit, consumer-owned electric cooperatives, which provide service to 40 million people in 47 states.

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    Tracy Warren
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