want to build so many power plants in Kentucky the governor put a
moratorium on new ones. There’s a whole pile of issues involved in
that suspension, but to me it points out the difference between
electric cooperatives and other kinds of utilities.
In case you missed the news,
this summer Gov. Paul Patton put a six-month halt on applications
for new electric generating plants. Patton’s move came as the
state received its 24th request in less than two years. He ordered
the moratorium to allow time to study the effects the plants would
have on the environment and the electric transmission system in
This flurry of proposals
results from the 1992 deregulation of wholesale electricity sales
among utilities. It may also be a response to the attention that
the California energy crisis has given to the importance of having
enough power plants to supply the demand-and how much money can be
made from selling electricity.
Kentucky is one of the leading
states for new power plant proposals, in part because of its
plentiful coal supplies, and its location as the crossroads for a
lot of natural gas pipelines to bring fuel in, and transmission
lines to ship electricity out.
Many of the proposed plants
are being built by entrepreneurs banking on being able to earn a
profit by selling electricity to the highest bidder.
Which brings me back to the
difference between electric co-ops and other businesses. Electric
cooperatives, including those in Kentucky, build and operate their
own power plants. But when a co-op fires up a generating station,
it’s not for profit, but to make sure its customers, its members,
have enough reasonably priced electricity to allow them to enhance
their quality of life.
Electric co-ops are locally based and owned by the
customers who buy the electricity. That form of business structure makes a difference.
Power plants built in hopes of attracting paying customers may prove to be an
effective way to supply our state and our nation with electricity, but their primary
motive will be to make money. Your electric cooperative will continue to set the
standard for placing consumers first.