Guest Commentary: My Old Yellow Car

By Steve Lunt, CEO, Duncan Valley Electric Cooperative —

Back in the mid-1980s, country singer Dan Seals recorded a song titled “My Old Yellow Car.” He reminisces about the times he had growing up with that car and waxes nostalgic for a return to the good times he remembers.

About the same time the song was released, my wife and I purchased a yellow car to use as our family vehicle. While it didn’t have the legendary experiences Dan Seals sings of with his yellow car, it did provide my family with many years of useful life. My four older children all learned to drive with that car. Today, it needs a few repairs to get it back into running condition, but when I get it fixed, I look forward to teaching my youngest to drive the “stick shift.”

About a decade before the song and the purchase of my yellow car, Arizona Electric Power Cooperative was building a generating plant. Because of a government mandate forbidding the use of natural gas, the plant was built to use coal as its fuel source.

Through the years and at a cost of many millions of dollars, upgrades have been done to significantly reduce emissions, while also reducing waste – always meeting or exceeding environmental requirements.

Some of the byproducts from burning coal are sold commercially to lower the overall cost of power to us, the consumer-members.

Millions of dollars have been invested to provide a reliable supply of low-cost energy to cooperative members across the Southwest. With regular maintenance and upgrades to the plant for increased efficiency and emission controls, the plant is expected to have a useful life that extends past 2030.

I dare say it will outlast my old yellow car.

When I purchased my car, it had all of the latest emission controls built right in. While living in the Phoenix valley, I dutifully took the car in every year for required emissions testing. Unless the original equipment wasn’t working, the government never told me I had to stop using my car.

It still has a few years of useful life.

Unfortunately, the latest proposed rules from the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency say that – in spite of following all the rules for 30-plus years, in spite of the millions of dollars invested, in spite of the debt still owed on the plant, in spite of the upgrades to the plant to meet emission standards and in spite of the cost increases to rural consumers – the coal generating plant will have to be retired and replaced with some other type of generation, most likely natural gas.

It will be very costly and it may not even get us to where the EPA now says we need to be – after already spending millions of dollars to reduce emissions.

I implore you to visit and ask that you be added to the list of more than half a million concerned citizens who want a balanced and fair approach to our nation’s energy policies. Hopefully, with your support, our reliable, low-cost electric supply can outlast my old yellow car.