CEC urges members to speak out against EPA power plan

Published 11:50 pm Wednesday, August 26, 2015

Shown is PowerSouth’s Charles R. Lowman Power Plant in Leroy.

Shown is PowerSouth’s Charles R. Lowman Power Plant in Leroy.

Covington Electric Cooperative members are being asked to voice opposition to the EPA’s “Clean Power Plan.”

On Wednesday, CEC notified members that EPA finalized new regulations targeting power plants, and that affordable and reliable power could likely be threatened as a result of the proposed regulations.

CEC officials said it was vital that the White House deal the rule until the courts can weigh in.

CEC’s Mark Parker said that the effect of the rule is on cost of electricity and system reliability.

“According to EPA’s own estimate, the rule would prematurely shut down more than one-quarter of electric co-op’s coal fired generation capacity,” Parker said. “The burden of paying off the remaining debt on those plants and paying for electricity from other sources would fall to co-op members.”

PowerSouth Energy Cooperative, which supplies power to Covington Electric Cooperative and other electric cooperatives through the state and northwest Florida, has a coal-fired plant in Leroy and owns an interest in a coal-fired plant in near Birmingham, which provides a combined 663 megawatts. Its generation capacity is 2,051 megawatts. The company has a diverse generating mix that also includes natural gas, water, compressed air energy storage technology and long-term purchased power agreements with other utilities.

Parker said since the rule is now final, co-ops and other utilities will have to make big financial decisions that will impact the cost of electricity if a “time out” is not provided.

“By voicing our opposition, we feel the ‘time out’ will help electric cooperatives avoid costly and irreversible decisions,” he said.

CEC officials said that EPA’s new rules also mean job losses.

A study released last month by the National Rural Electric Cooperative Association detailed the relationship between higher electricity prices and job losses, which predicts the impact of a 10 to 25 percent electricity price increase on jobs and gross domestic product from 2020 to 2040.

The study calls for 1.2 million jobs to be lost in 2021, which is only six years from now, with a 10 percent increase in the electricity prices. A 25 percent increase would have a 2.2 million job cut in 2021.

“Affordable electricity is rural America’s economic lifeline. This study shines a light on the true, real-life cost of higher electricity prices – a cost that policymakers in Washington would do well to remember,” NRECA CEO Jo Ann Emerson said in a release. “And federal regulations that result in higher electricity prices, such as the EPA’s proposed Clean Power Plan, could wipe out any modest gains rural America has made since the Great Recession.”

Electric co-ops have worked with the EPA over the last year to reduce the negative impacts of this rule, CEC CEO and General Manager Ed Short said in the email.

“In fact, supporters like you helped electric cooperatives send 1.2 million comments to the EPA on this rule over the last 18 months,” he said. “Unfortunately, EPA did not address our concerns. We need your help to speak out against this rule by asking the White House for a delay.”

Visit action.coop to send a message to the White House.