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Tom (Yusha) Sager
tom (at)

Wednesday, March 12, 2008
Open Letter to
Dwayne Cartwright, General Manager,
Intercounty Electric Cooperative
Re: Electric Power Issues

Dear Mr. Cartwright:

Thank you for responding to my note. (You were the only one - no responses from Rolla Municipal Utilities (RMU) or the City of Rolla.)

I am somewhat aware of Intercounty Electric Cooperative (IECA)'s energy conservation programs as I lived in the county until 1992; and let me thank you again for the energy efficient water heater that you bought for me through your rebate program.

It would be very nice if RMU would offer free energy audits and rebates on energy efficient appliances and building materials like you do. Perhaps you would discuss your energy efficiency programs with RMU and educate them in the importance of energy efficiency. They do not listen to their customers, even going so far as to deliberately insult rate payers who are so bold as to question their wisdom. The most egregious example of their insolent behavior is Dr. James Stoffer's infamous remark about Tracey Watson, when she questioned the wisdom of RMU's contract with MoPEP, "She's a beautician. Maybe she's seen a bunch [of contracts]." Perhaps they would listen to a colleague like you where they won't listen to a customer.

I do have a few questions, comments and suggestions concerning IECA and its operations.

1. Does Intercounty have any women on its Board of Directors or in high paying management positions? As you know, RMU is an exclusive men's club, with the entire Board and the three highest paid administrative positions all being held by men. (Perhaps if Mayor Jenks had appointed a woman to fill one of the empty Board positions, Dr. Stoffer would not have dared to make such a blatantly chauvinistic remark.)

2. Why do you maintain such a high service availability fee (even higher than RMU's)? For example, a household cutting its usage by 50% from 1000Kwh to 500Kwh would receive only a 38.6% price reduction from $93.41 to $57.36 (April 2008 rates). I would suggest that you look into adopting a fee structure that would encourage energy efficiency by offering a greater than 50% price reduction for a 50% reduction in usage.

3. I was very glad to read that Associated Electric Cooperative, Inc. (AECI) has placed on hold its attempt to build a 660MW coal fired plant in Carroll County. Now that the public and their representatives are beginning to understand the tremendous damage that burning coal does to our atmosphere and planetary climate, and now that we are on the point of instituting a "carbon tax," coal will soon become financially as well as environmentally unsound.

I suspect that we will be seeing a lot more agreements, such as the landmark Collaboration Agreement between Kansas City Power and Light (KCPL) and the Sierra Club in which KCPL agreed, among other things, to offset all of its CO2 emissions with wind power and energy efficiency programs. I hope that AECI and other power providers will follow KCPL's lead. There are excellent alternatives to coal in the form of conservation and renewables. (I am familiar with these events through my association with Great Rivers Environmental Law Center, whose attorneys handled the landmark KCPL case for the Sierra Club as well as saving Rolla's own Buehler Park.)

4. I was extremely disappointed to read your statements touting nuclear power as a solution to our energy woes. If you think that coal-fired plants are plagued with unacceptable problems and cost overruns, just wait until you see what happens with the new generation of nuclear plants, should we be foolish enough to build them. Nuclear power was first touted as "too cheap to meter." It turned out to be expensive, dirty and unsafe. Now it is touted as our savior from global warming, a claim as unlikely to be fulfilled as the "too cheap to meter" claim. 63 years into the nuclear era, the federal government has still not made good on its promise to safely dispose of the nuclear waste, and is unlikely to do so at any time in the near future.

An article by Arjun Makhijani in the Dallas Morning News, will give you an overview of the problems. I suggest reading "Nuclear Power Is Not the Answer" by Helen Caldicott and/or "Carbon-Free and Nuclear-Free: A Roadmap for U.S. Energy Policy" by Arjun Makhijani before making such exaggerated claims for nuclear power.

Incidently, Great Rivers has been instrumental in forcing AmerenUE to make public a considerable part of it its Integrated Resource Plan, which includes a second Calloway nuclear generation plant. I expect we will be hearing more about their plans in the near future, and I would expect to see considerable public controversy over them.

5. We have a great untapped source of power generation within your own district. For example, I know a person in IECA's distribution area with a solar house and diesel backup who is completely off the grid. Since the passage of Missouri's Easy Connect Statute last year, I have encouraged her to discuss with you hooking her house up to the grid as that would be beneficial to both of you since she can generate a lot of excess power that she can't store, and using her diesel generated backup is expensive. I suspect she is not unique.

I think if you were to encourage people in your distribution area to install solar, wind, biogas, or other small renewable power generation facilities; maybe getting them a bulk discount from suppliers and giving advice concerning where and how to install generating capacity, this would go a long way toward satisfying the renewable energy requirements that the legislature is sure to impose as the next step now that Easy Connect is law in Missouri.

I would particularly encourage you to look into biogas energy generation. I think biogas technology would be most appropriate for the Ozark region with its reliance on small to medium sized animal farms. (See, for example, Small scale renewable power generation would not only be a blessing to the region and its economy, but would provide extra income to local farmers who are suffering from our federally induced recession far more than the average family.

Thanks again for listening to me. If I can be of any assistance, please don't hesitate to contact me.

Yours sincerely,

Tom Sager