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PNS Daily Newscast - October 17, 2019 


President Trump puts some distance between himself and policy on Syria. Also on the rundown: awaiting a ruling in South Dakota on the insanity defense, plus the focus remains on election security for 2020.

2020Talks - October 16, 2019 


Last night in Ohio the fourth Democratic debate covered issues from health care, gun control and abortion to the Turkish invasion of Syria. What's clear: Sen. Elizabeth Warren has replaced former VP Joe Biden as the centerstage target.

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Report Charts Pathway for Rural Clean Energy

Iowa is a major wind-power provider, but ranks 29th among U.S. states for solar investment, despite solar rooftops' ability to provide 20% of all electricity used in the state. (cfra.org)
Iowa is a major wind-power provider, but ranks 29th among U.S. states for solar investment, despite solar rooftops' ability to provide 20% of all electricity used in the state. (cfra.org)
July 3, 2019

DES MOINES, Iowa - Rural electric cooperatives serve more than 40 million people, including 650,000 in Iowa, and a new report says many co-ops could save their customers money by retiring existing coal plants in favor of renewable-energy sources.

The report was authored by the Center for Rural Affairs, We Own It and Clean Up the River Environment (CURE). Erik Hatlestad, program director for CURE, said U.S. wind capacity is expected to grow by 6% in 2019 and solar capacity by 14% - big increases aimed at reducing greenhouse-gas emissions that accelerate climate change.

"We've seen a big shift across the country towards prioritizing clean energy," he said, "largely because of the massive decline in price."

The report said rural Americans typically pay more for utilities than do urban dwellers. For years, electric cooperatives have argued the costs of transitioning to clean energy have been too high for them to move forward, acknowledging long-term contracts with coal suppliers and significant debt.

While Hatlestad said a transition away from coal to cleaner energy won't be cheap, research shows it will cost more to continue operating coal plants.

"But it's going to require tremendous amount of the public will," he said, "and a shift in priorities to options that are statistically proven to be more affordable and to offer more opportunities for local communities."

Study co-author Liz Veazey, network director of We Own It, an Omaha-based nonprofit representing co-op customers, said rural cooperatives derive 67% to 75% of their energy from fossil fuels. She said co-op members aren't just customers - they're owners, and can make their voices heard if they want a shift to cleaner energy.

"Sadly, most of the more than 40 million member owners of electric co-ops in the United States don't know that they're member owners," she said, "so there's a huge opportunity for co-ops to help engage their member owners."

Iowa is home to 45 rural electric cooperatives, more than 130 municipal utilities and two investor-owned utility providers.

The report is online at cfra.org.

Disclosure: Center for Rural Affairs contributes to our fund for reporting on Budget Policy & Priorities, Environment, Hunger/Food/Nutrition, Rural/Farming. If you would like to help support news in the public interest, click here.
Roz Brown, Public News Service - IA