energy-101.org : Could you tell me some of what your sense, from where you sit, of the impact of things like the carbon tax that they’re talking about? What is your sense of the impact that could have on a local community?
Tony : It depends on how much they charge, what is the fee going to be. It’s on a basis of a ton of CO2. Are they going to charge me $10 a ton, 20$ a ton, or $50 a ton? That’s going to be the penalty, or potentially could be, the penalty for producing CO2 with the coal plant. Obviously, the higher it goes, the more devastating it’s going to be. So for me to tell you what the impact is, that’s tough to do, because I don’t know where the legislation’s going to end up or even if it’s even going to exist. But it’s going to do nothing but raise my costs. So I don’t have a good answer. I have a lot of unknowns.
energy-101.org : It’s not going to change the generation of power. It’s going to change the cost of power. Is that right?
Tony : Well, the goal is to change the generation, because if I’ve got a $50-per-ton penalty for producing carbon, that’s going to incentivize me to produce less. They want to push me off coal then. They want to make coal unaffordable. So if the penalty is high enough, I’m going to have to shut down the coal plant and build a biomass plant or try to find a slice of nuclear that I can buy, or invest more money into small-scale nuclear as one of the new technologies coming out. You know we’ve had nuclear subs floating in the seas for years, and we need to take that technology and move it on land in a smaller scale. So maybe that’s an option. Then I avoid the CO2 tax. So that, again, is another way to mandate less coal. But people aren’t shutting their lights off either. So it’s going to go back to the balancing act of affordability. You know, can I afford to pay that tax, that carbon tax? Is it more affordable to go with natural gas at $5-6? Either way, my costs are going up. I just don’t know how far and how fast.
energy-101.org : That’s one of the challenges for people on the other end. I mean for your customers that say, “Well, what’s this going to mean?” They can ask you, and you can go…
Tony : Don’t know until you give me a price, but all the lobbying we do locally and on the state level and on the federal level, it all… We always ask the question of affordability. If you want $20 carbon tax, show me how that’s going to be affordable, and I’ll show you the impact on my members. And you tell me if I can grow business in Michigan at that price.