The AEP Tanners Creek Power Plant in
(Lawrenceburg, Ind.) – A state lawmaker says any hopes of an economic recovery could be halted if new U.S. Environmental Protection Agency guidelines are allowed to take effect in 2015.
As part of the Clean Air Act, energy providers such as American Electric Power and Duke Energy are shutting some of their plants across the country and reducing carbon dioxide output at other stations to meet the EPA emissions caps by December 31, 2014.
Indiana House District 67 Rep. Randy Frye (R-Greensburg) says energy rates for Hoosier homes and businesses could increase by 30 percent.
“We aren’t against cleaner air. I have children. I have grandchildren. I want the environment as clean as possible, but we need a plan here that allows the power companies time to replace these plants,” Frye said. “Two years is not reasonable to try and replace a power generating unit.”
Frye uses AEP’s Tanners Creek Power Plant in Lawrenceburg as an example. He recently toured the plant and spoke with AEP officials about the impact of the regulations.
In June, AEP announced it would halt the elder three of the Lawrenceburg plant’s four generating units, cutting the plant’s current output of 1,000 megawatts in half. About 65 employees at the facility stand to lose their jobs.
Duke Energy followed suit in August, announcing one of the four generating units – unit 6 – will be shuttered at the Miami Fort Power Plant just a few miles up the Ohio River from Lawrenceburg.
“The (EPA’s) standard is just too strict. The standard is set for the cleanest of coal-fired plants and those are the newer plants,” Frye said, noting that AEP Tanners Creek’s three units at risk were constructed in the 1960s.
The jobs impact could stretch beyond the power plants.
“(Employers) are going to be looking to locate in other areas where their power rates aren’t going to go up 30 percent. This is strictly an attack on coal-fired plants,” said Frye.
Also, with less juice on the grid the state could be subject to rolling brownouts.
“If you’re going to decrease 495 megawatts of available power (from Tanners Creek), not only will we pay additional for our power, but it may not be there when you need it,” he said.
With more time, Frye says the power companies could look towards establishing alternative energy sources without having to raise rates drastically.
“Right there in Lawrenceburg there is a natural gas power plant, and I believe that is the direction the industry will be going in the next decade,” he said.
The state legislature shied away from the idea of allowing nuclear energy during 2011’s legislative session following the March 11 earthquake and tsunami that badly damaged a nuclear station in Japan, Frye said.
Frye is urging his constituents to call and send e-mails to the EPA and President Barack Obama asking for more time for companies such as AEP and Duke Energy to meet the guidelines. He, other state lawmakers, congressman, and senators from Indiana are also pleading with the EPA and the president to push back the January 1, 2015 deadline.
“We need to let people know this is coming,” Frye said. “This should be a major part of your decision making going forward as you talk to various candidates.”
“This is a nationwide economic killer. I would hope with the current status of our national economy that the president would look at this and see that we do need clean air and we do need to have our environment as healthy as possible, but we need a plan that is implementable and will allow the people of Indiana to keep their lights on, to be able to pay their bills, and to continue to generate jobs here.”
The EPA has heard some of the concerns from Republicans and those concerned on how regulations are impacting the economic recovery. On Thursday, the agency announced it will delay its previous September 30 deadline for new climate-change rules.
The announcement is on the heels of an announcement by the White House in August ordering the EPA to hold off on new standards for ground level ozone pollution, or smog.