Dakota Electric Association’s President and CEO Greg Miller met Wednesday morning with EPA Administrator Gina McCarthy. McCarthy made a stop at the City of Burnsville, Minnesota, as she has been visiting city and business leaders in preparation for the EPA’s roll out of new rules regarding carbon emissions.
Miller spoke with Administrator McCarthy about the proactive work Dakota Electric has been doing over the years regarding conservation and load management, which has reduced the amount of generation resources the electric distribution cooperative has needed over the years. He also informed the administrator that any increase in costs to meet government regulations has to be passed directly onto consumers.
“As a cooperative, we don’t have profits to cut into – cost increases from new laws and rules are passed on in the form of increased rates,” Miller said.
Burnsville personnel mentioned several ways that Dakota Electric has assisted them with energy-efficiency upgrades, which have reduced energy use at city hall, the ice arena and other facilities.
Jon Brekke, VP, membership and energy markets at Great River Energy, Dakota Electric’s wholesale power supplier, participated in the meeting and discussed innovations the company has designed and deployed to lower its overall emissions and reduce its carbon footprint. Brekke presented a regional ISO-based carbon reduction plan to the administrator, which can lower greenhouse gas emissions without the need for a carbon tax. He also asked for a 120-day comment period for carbon rules.
Administrator McCarthy appreciated hearing from Dakota Electric and Great River Energy and others included in the Burnsville meeting. In her comments, Administrator McCarthy recognized the unique nature of electric cooperatives. While she stated the EPA “can’t craft a rule for a unique subset of utilities,” she added, “However, we can’t ignore rural co-ops as a subset.” If further modifications are desired, she said the dialog could continue during the comment period.
Miller thought the outcome of the meeting was positive, and was appreciative to Burnsville Mayor Kautz for inviting Dakota Electric to the meeting.
“It is not every day that you get the opportunity talk directly with the head of the EPA,” Miller said. “I wanted Administrator McCarthy to hear about the positive things we are proactively doing without government mandates, and I wanted to speak on behalf of our member-owners who have to pay the increases for any government regulations that are passed down from Washington.”