Electricity Use to Drop 2.4 percent in 2020
The pandemic is striking a blow to the nation’s energy consumption. Even as more people spend time at home, the increase in residential use is not expected to make up for the decline in commercial and industrial use.
According to the Department of Energy, overall, electricity consumption in the United States is expected to decrease 2.4 percent in 2020 compared to last year.
Commercial users such as retail shops and restaurants are expected to use 6.4 percent less electricity this year, and industrial users such as factories and energy producers are expected to use 6 percent less. Residential retail electricity sales, however, are expected to increase 3.5 percent this year as more people work from home, according to the Energy Department.
Democratic Party Changes Stance on Nuclear Energy
For the first time in almost 50 years, the Democratic Party taken a favorable stance on nuclear energy. In the party platform, the party stands for a “technology-neutral” approach that includes “all zero-carbon technologies, including hydroelectric power, geothermal, existing and advanced nuclear, and carbon capture and storage.”
The Democrats’ new position means both the Republican and Democratic parties are in support of nuclear energy, which is a positive step toward meeting renewable energy goals. Climate scientists concur that a plan to address climate change, which has long been a priority of Democrats, must include a significant amount of nuclear power.
Proposed Tax Credit Would Ease Cost of Retirement Benefits for Non-Profits
A proposal in Congress would mean a temporary tax credit for electric cooperatives and other not-for-profit groups, to help keep retirement plans funded during the pandemic. The Preserving Employee Retirement Savings Act would provide a two-year tax credit for up to 20 percent of the retirement costs paid by co-ops and other small businesses experiencing hardships because of the pandemic. The bill was introduced by Ways & Means Committee Members Brad Schneider
(D-IL) and Mike Kelly (R-PA).
The National Rural Electric Cooperative Association (NRECA) is a key backer of the bill, and worked to ensure the tax credit would not count as income for co-ops, so it will not threaten tax-exempt status. Other not-for-profit groups, including the Girl Scouts, The Jewish Federations of North America, and Christian Schools International joined NRECA in support of the bill.
Baldwin, Senate Democrats Push for Trillions in Climate Spending
Wisconsin Senator Tammy Baldwin joined other Senate Democrats in presenting a 260-page report recommending trillions of dollars in investments and a wide-ranging federal effort to slash greenhouse gas emissions. The report was produced by the Democratic Special Committee on the Climate Crisis, without bipartisan participation.
With the goal of reaching net-zero emissions by 2050, the report calls for new regulatory policies and federal spending on climate that amounts to at least 2 percent of gross domestic product annually, or $400 billion based on current GDP estimates. It also includes the recommendation that 40 percent of investments go to communities of color and low-income, deindustrialized, and disadvantaged communities to address environmental racism.
Push Continues for Flexible Financing, Rural Broadband
A group of U.S. senators, including Senator Tammy Baldwin (D-WI), is pushing Senate leaders to add Flexible Financing for Rural America to the next coronavirus relief package. The measure would allow electric cooperatives and telecommunications providers to refinance Rural Utilities Service (RUS) debt at lower interest rates, saving participating co-ops $2 million per year, on average.
Baldwin joined Senators Tina Smith (D-MN) and John Hoeven (R-ND) in sending a letter to Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-KY) and Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer (D-NY) urging them to allow co-ops to take advantage of current lower interest rates so they may be able to better manage cash-flow, invest in rural communities, and pass savings on to members. Congressman Ron Kind (D-WI) was among the first to sign on to support the House version of the measure.
Senator Tammy Baldwin and Congressman Kind have also both signed on to support the Keeping Critical Connections Act, which would provide funds to the Federal Communications Commission (FCC) to reimburse small-business broadband providers, including co-ops, for voluntarily providing free or discounted services to students learning from home. The measure would also include funds for low-income households that cannot afford broadband payments.
Research shows Sensitive Global Warming Forecasts Overestimated for 50 Years
According to Science Daily, researchers have exposed inconsistencies in global warming trends over the last 50 years. Research published in the peer-reviewed journal Earth System Dynamics highlights disparities between the most sensitive climate change models and temperature observations since the 1970s, showing the most extreme predictions are unfounded. Scientists from the University of Exeter came to the conclusion after studying the output of complex climate models and comparing them to global warming records.
There are dozens of climate models, each with differing results. The review finds warming is happening, but at a much lower rate.