Cooperative urges agency not to jeopardize reliability, affordability
WINCHESTER, Ky. (Dec. 1, 2014) — East Kentucky Power Cooperative (EKPC) has submitted comments on the federal Environmental Protection Agency’s (EPA) proposed clean power plan regulations to cut emissions of carbon dioxide from power plants. Those comments are available at http://www.ekpc.coop/EPAcomments.pdf.
The following statement was released today by Anthony “Tony” Campbell, president and CEO of EKPC:
“As a not-for-profit, member-owned cooperative, EKPC’s mission always has been to provide electric power as reliably and affordably as possible to our owner-member cooperatives and the people they serve. For Kentucky, coal has been the fuel that is best suited to assure reliable, affordable electric service. The results speak for themselves. Kentucky consistently has had reliable electric service and some of the lowest electric rates in the nation. Kentucky has built upon this strength, creating hundreds of thousands of manufacturing jobs, which depend upon reliable, affordable energy.
“Therefore, Kentucky has much at stake as EPA prepares to regulate carbon dioxide emissions.
“EPA’s plan goes too far, too fast. Rather than simply regulating the emissions from power plants, as prescribed by the Clean Air Act, EPA is attempting to regulate the electric power sector. EPA is attempting to mandate generation technologies and control consumer behaviors.
“Further, EPA’s plan jeopardizes reliability and affordability, which are vital to Kentucky’s economy. For Kentucky, EPA’s plan means higher monthly bills, diminished reliability, lost manufacturing jobs and increased risks.
“This is one of the most complex regulatory initiatives in our nation’s history. EPA owes it to the American people to proceed carefully and deliberately, rather than rushing to finalize this rule.
EPA is acting beyond the authority of the Clean Air Act and far beyond any precedent of previous regulation. As a result, EPA’s plan will be the source of much litigation and, therefore, additional uncertainty for our industry.
“EPA’s plan forces a transition away from coal to other options that are not as reliable and not as affordable. EPA proposes a massive switch to natural gas. Such a transition would require enormous investments in new gas-fired power plants, new gas pipelines and new electric transmission lines to support the new plants.
“In the past decade, EKPC has invested nearly $1.5 billion in two new coal-burning units and retrofits to older units because coal has a proven track record of providing reliable, affordable power. Now, EPA’s actions could jeopardize EKPC’s ability to operate those units efficiently and economically. EKPC’s investments could become stranded, leaving hundreds of thousands of Kentuckians to bear the costs of power plants that are not allowed to operate, along with the costs to build new replacement plants. Kentuckians need assurance existing plants will run to the end of their planned lives.
“The leaders of EKPC understand the importance of diversifying our generation portfolio to mitigate risk. We are doing so carefully and thoughtfully, in order to avoid precisely the kind of tumult that EPA’s plan will create in its desperate rush.
“The families and businesses served by electric co-ops in Kentucky already are struggling to make ends meet. The household income of electric cooperative members in Kentucky is 22 percent below the U.S. average. In the 87 counties served by our 16 owner-member cooperatives, unemployment is 60 percent higher than the national average, including many out-of-work coal miners. These are people who can least afford a rate increase.
“We call on EPA to withdraw this proposed rule and to work with Congress to amend the Clean Air Act to provide a legally appropriate and technologically and economically feasible approach to address the reduction of carbon dioxide emissions. The proposed rule will unacceptably jeopardize reliable, affordable electric service for millions of Americans.”