Basin Electric Power Cooperative CEO Ron Harper says utilities can help develop a comprehensive plan that addresses climate change, encourages technology development and gives utilities time to develop that technology.
His comments came during Basin Electric's annual meeting.
Harper also said utilities must fight to protect coal's place in the nation's energy future.
But he says there's also a responsibility to explore new ways to use it.
Basin Electric provides power to nine states: Wyoming, North Dakota, South Dakota, Montana, Nebraska, Iowa, Minnesota, Colorado and New Mexico.