Public Utilities turned away Westar transformer

Public Utilities Superintendent Bill Callaway

Power consumers will be in for an enormous shock if proposed "cap and trade" legislation gets through Congress, according to Bill Callaway, Clay Center public utilities superintendent.

Callaway, president-elect of the Kansas Municipal Utilities, said the organization will be spending time lobbying against the legislation and educating consumers about the potential affect on their electricity bills.

"(The legislation) has the potential to double our cost of purchased electricity," Callaway said.

He also expressed concern that the issues is not understood or being followed by the public or the media.

"It is going to be devastating for generational electricity, particularly in the Midwest," Callaway said.

"We're not against environmental issues," he said. "We're just trying to be realistic. Coal remains the most efficient fuel for electricity generation."

Under cap and trade, limits are placed on the amount of CO2 businesses or farms or utilities will be permitted to put into the atmosphere.

Those putting less than the allowed amount would be permitted to sell "carbon credits" to business that are producing too much pollutant.

The total amount of allowances and credits cannot exceed the cap, limiting total emissions to that level. Companies that need to increase their emission allowance must buy credits from those who pollute less. The transfer of allowances is referred to as a trade.

The marketplace for credits is designed to reduce pollution by paying people who reduce pollution with money from polluters.