CEC manager: Keeping coal in mix crucial

Published 12:04 am Friday, April 4, 2014

There were lots of people sporting red T-shirts at Covington Electric Cooperative’s annual meeting held Thursday at the Kiwanis Community Center – even CEC general manager Ed Short.

The message on those red shirts, “action.coop,” was designed to rally support for keeping coal in the mix for future power generation. Representatives of the National Rural Electric Cooperative Association were on hand to help inform CEC members about their efforts, passing out post cards urging members to lend their support to the action.coop effort.

“Seventy percent of the electric power in this country comes from coal burning power plants,” Short said. “As you know, when coal or natural gas is burned, carbon dioxide is produced. The EPA wants carbon dioxide taken out of the power generation process. The problem is there is no economically feasible process to do this. It is being worked on, but that technology is not here at this time.”

Short said CEC, PowerSouth, and other power providers want a clean environment.

“We live her also, you know, and we want clean air and water for our families and our communities,” he said. “Like many utilities across the country, PowerSouth has invested hundreds of millions of dollars on plant upgrades to clean the air and the environment in and around the PowerSouth generating plants and that is especially true at the coal fired plant.”

CEC members also watched a video from a U.S. House of Representatives Energy and Commerce sub-committee meeting held earlier this year. In it, Department of Energy Deputy Assistant Secretary Dr. Julio Friedman said that the proposed changes to EPA regulations would cause a 70 to 80 percent increase in the cost of wholesale power.

“An increase of this magnitude would raise CEC’s rates,” Short said. “How much would depend on the power supply mix – coal – gas – biomass – nuclear.”

He also explained that hundreds of millions have already been spent to meet environmental regulations already in place.

“These efforts have reduced the amount of undesirable particulates from the generation process and continue to do so every year,” Short said.

“Coal must have a place in power production going forward,” Short said. “We need an ‘all of the above’ energy approach with solar, wind, biomass natural gas, hydro, nuclear and coal.

“This approach will help keep America’s economic engine running, and Lord knows that engine has had enough issues in recent times,” he said. “We do not need to add further crippling issues to the economic recovery we are all hoping for.”

Addressing the bitter cold experienced this winter, he said American Electric Power (AEP), which serves 5 million power meters from Texas to Ohio, has multiple coal units that are scheduled to be retired next year. During the cold, AEP was using 89 percent of those about-to-be-retired units just to keep the lights on.

He encouraged the approximately 3,000 people in attendance to either complete the action.coop cards or go to www.action.coop or www.tellepa.com to support continued use of coal for power generation.

CEC also celebrated its 70th year of business during the annual meeting.