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FAYETTE - The Howard Electric Cooperative told KOMU 8 News Monday the new federal rule to reduce carbon dioxide emissions will increase the cost of electric bills.

The Environmental Protection Agency announced the Clean Power Plan Monday, which aims to reduce carbon dioxide emissions by 30 percent from 2005 levels by 2030. Howard Electric General Manager Richard Fowler said most Missouri electricity is produced by burning coal, which emits carbon dioxide, so these regulations will increase the price of electric bills.

"Coal is the cheapest resource we have," Fowler said. "The other resources are much more expensive, so if we do away with coal and have to go to other forms of power, it will drive costs up."

Folwer said rates could go up anywhere from 25-100 percent. He said the real number depends on the price of natural gas, which is the second most commonly used power source for electricity. Folwer said only 16 percent of electricity produced by Missouri cooperatives comes from renewable sources of energy.

"The renewables don't cover you on the coldest day of the year or the hottest day of the year," Fowler said. "You have to have other power sources on those days."

Howard Electric Cooperative member Peter Labaute said the small increased cost of an electric bill is worth reversing climate change he says is caused by carbon dioxide emissions.

"There are a lot of expenses from burning coal that are not being paid by the user of electricity," Labaute said. "There are things like the pollution in the air, the asthma caused in areas by coal plants, the acid rain, the acidification of the ocean. There are all kinds of external costs that when you add them up are far greater than your electric bill going up some."

Labaute said the Howard Electric Cooperative would not let him, or anyone else sharing his opinion, voice his concerns at the Cooperative annual meeting Monday. The Howard Electric Cooperative provides electricity to Howard County and the southern half of Randolph County.