Rural Electric Co-op Funds Junk Science

Colorado’s Intermountain Rural Electric Cooperative, which serves about 133,000 customers in rural Colorado between Denver and Colorado Springs and into the mountains, is shelling out $100,000 to fund a scientist known for his fringe position on global warming. 

Their justification for their stance is also fringe.  In its 2005 Annual Report, the cooperative stated that:

Some environmentalist purportedly concerned with “global warming,” are actually determined to put a stop to all industrial activity, which they view as a threat to life on Earth.

Their justification for their stance is also fringe.  In its 2005 Annual Report, the cooperative stated that:

Some environmentalist purportedly concerned with “global warming,” are actually determined to put a stop to all industrial activity, which they view as a threat to life on Earth.

ABC News more accurately captures the situation.

Scientists and consumer advocates say the co-op is trying to confuse its clients about the virtually total scientific consensus on the causes of global warming.

Utility companies have been passing the hat to pay for funding for efforts to keep the global warming issue muddy, long after a scientific consensus has developed that global warming is real and that it is caused by people, and not other natural factors.

Why?  Coal burning power plants are a major cause of greenhouse gases, like CO2, and utility companies are worried that any serious effort to combat global warming will require them to make major investments in anti-pollution technologies or cleaner power generation methods.

Intermountain is the largest, and has the highest population density, of all the electric cooperatives in Colorado, a product of a large exurban population in the area.  Still, this is a remarkably large expenditure for what amounts to dishonest lobbying for such a small company.

Its expenditures are particularly confusing because it is largely a power distributor, rather than a power producer.  Intermountain buys its power from Xcel Energy, and the Western Area Power Administration, which in turn purchases its power mostly from the Westminster, Colorado headquartered Tri-State Generation and Transmission Association.

In 2005, the cooperative had an operating margin (i.e. profit after providing electricity) of about $12 million, about 10% of which was distributed to cooperative member as a patronage dividend.

Intermountain has also devoted considerable political effort to opposing renewable source energy under Colorado’s Amendment 37.

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Andrew Oh-Willeke

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