What is the answer?
Recently, President Obama put forth a plan that addresses “Economic Benefits of Increasing Electric Grid Resilience to Weather Outages.” This plan was compiled to address the growing number of weather-related catastrophes and their damaging impact on our electric infrastructure and the economy.
Whether you agree with the president or question the realness of climate change, the facts remain that severe weather accounts for widespread power outages across our country – disrupting our lives and costing our economy BILLIONS of dollars in the last decade.
Missouri is not immune from these disasters. The 2011 Joplin tornado did $20-30 million in damage to Empire District Electric’s grid alone!
What is the answer? We must invest in strengthening our electric power grid. A resilient, reliable, efficient grid is the backbone of our society, powering our homes and businesses 24/7. In order to keep electric rates low, as they are in Missouri, we must acknowledge that our current electric infrastructure, much of it dating back 30-50 years, is in dire need of repair. A stronger, more resilient grid will shield us from severe weather-related outages, keep our small businesses running and preserve affordable, reliable electricity. Instead of recurring outages costing our economy, an investment in our electric grid will stiumlate our economy, creating thousands of new jobs along the way.
The National Rural Electric Cooperative Association, headed by Missouri’s own Jo Ann Emerson, also believes that upgraded transmission lines and technology is a path forward. “New transmission is needed to support growing demand for electricity and the development of new renewable and fossil-fuel resources.”
If Missouri consumers want to keep rates low and their lights on, then government leaders must put forth policies that encourage investment in our electric infrastructure. We should not wait for the next Joplin tornado. We must act now.
Next update: More info on the EPA’s tough emission standards for new power plants. How will it impact Missouri’s energy future?
Irl Scissors, Executive Director