WASHINGTON, D.C. (Nov. 18, 2013) – East Kentucky Power Cooperative’s chief executive officer testified before a congressional subcommittee on Nov. 14, supporting legislation to provide the federal Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) with common-sense guidelines as the agency develops regulations for greenhouse gas emissions (GHG) from power plants.
“This bipartisan bill is badly needed to ensure EPA does not promulgate a rule that jeopardizes the nation’s energy future, puts electricity reliability at risk and severely harms the economy,” Tony Campbell told the House Subcommittee on Energy and Power, which is chaired by Rep. Whitfield.
More than 90 percent of the electricity EKPC generates is fueled by coal. Campbell noted that Kentucky’s economy is reliant on coal-mining and on manufacturing, which depends on low energy costs.
In September, the EPA issued proposed regulations for newly constructed power plants. Those rules assume no new traditional coal power plants will be built in the future, Campbell said. And the rule would require utilities to capture and store GHG emissions, a technology still under development.
Campbell said he is concerned EPA will propose similar rules for existing power plants next year. In the past decade, EKPC has invested nearly $2 billion to retrofit existing coal-fired units with pollution-control equipment and construct what it describes as two of the cleanest coal-fired units in the United States. Much of the retrofit work was performed under consent decrees reached between the EPA and EKPC.
“An existing source rule that requires carbon capture and sequestration would leave EKPC with no choice but to convert these units to natural gas, essentially wasting the extensive capital investments that have been made to lower pollutants from coal-fired units,” Campbell said.
For new power plants, the Whitfield-Manchin draft calls for establishing separate standards for natural gas and coal, and set achievable, demonstrated standards for coal plants. The proposal provides for Congressional oversight of GHG rules affecting existing power plants.
“As a member-owned, not-for-profit cooperative, EKPC is focused on how this affects the people at the end of our power lines — the residents and business owners who will pay the costs of complying with these greenhouse gas regulations,” Campbell said. “Congressional action is sorely needed to end the regulatory uncertainty surrounding the electric power sector and put the country back on a path toward full economic recovery.”
East Kentucky Power Cooperative is a not-for-profit, member-owned cooperative that provides wholesale electricity to 16 owner-member distribution cooperatives that serve 520,000 Kentucky homes, farms, businesses and industries across 87 counties. EKPC provides power through coal-fueled plants located in Mason, Clark and Pulaski counties; natural gas-fueled peaking units in Clark County; renewable energy plants in Boone, Laurel, Greenup, Hardin, Mason and Pendleton counties; and nearly 2,800 miles of transmission lines. Together, EKPC and its 16 owner-member cooperatives are known as Kentucky’s Touchstone Energy Cooperatives.