Send Your Message to the EPA and Your Congressional Leaders NOW !

W. Scott Ramsey, President and General Mgr. Southern Illinois Power Cooperative

In Washington, DC the federal Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) recently issued their proposed green-house gas (GHG) rules for natural gas-fired and coal-fired power plants (Proposed Clean-Air Act Section 111 New Source Performance Standards). The proposal focuses on potential new plants and would require them to capture and sequester carbon dioxide (CO2). This is no surprise from our current EPA but many of us still have trouble with a Gatling-Gun approach to rule making these days. However, let’s get down to quickly identifying a fundamental problem with the current GHG rule.

The power industry primarily depends upon three major fuels for the bulk of its electrical generation to supply America with plentiful, safe, clean, and affordable power. Coal, natural-gas, and uranium (nuclear) make up approximately 87% of our country’s electric supply. As the economy ebbs and flows these three fuels rise and fall in price, seldom all at the same time; thus, these three sources are diversified to help keep costs in check. When you remove one of them you can be assured prices of power will increase significantly. Any draconian rule which effectively stops construction of new plants using either of these fuels is a big step in the wrong direction.

The first fundamental problem is the proposed GHG rules will limit/stop new coal-plant construction because it holds a new proposed coal unit to the standard of a new combined-cycle natural gas unit. Technological limitations now and for the foreseeable future, will force generators “NOT” to choose coal. Simply put the EPA is proposing a rule on new coal that they know the industry cannot meet. Somehow I see this as perhaps “un-American” and puts the government in the role of picking winners and losers.

If we take the same approach above and apply it to the automobile industry what would that look like? As an example let’s assume the EPA takes the same approach with diesel powered trucks. A rule is made which puts the same requirement upon a diesel truck as a Honda Prius in terms of its emissions. The auto makers soon realize that they cannot technologically create a truck with this standard that the public would purchase or operate. As the years go by the EPA realizes that used diesel trucks are still on the highway and now proceeds to expand the rule to include the used trucks. As the reader I am sure you can now see where this will ultimately lead. Of course this seems absurd and surely the EPA could never contemplate such a thing? This is ultimately where the proposed GHG rules will take coal-fired generation in America if they are allowed to stand. The EPA recently admitted off the record that eventually such rules would be proposed for existing coal-fired plants.

Through time the electric-power industry has always improved to reduce emissions of coal and natural gas fired plants. If the EPA really feels we must reduce CO2 then work with the Dept of Energy and utilities to proceed with additional research and development “before” coming up with a rule even the current state-of the-art coal plant designs can only dream to meet.

The second fundamental problem is the ultimate removal of coal-fired generation assumes there is enough natural-gas and uranium to go around. In the late 1970s the oil and natural-gas shortages prompted the federal government to ban new power generation using these fuels. Do we really wish to depend that heavily on natural gas knowing that we have experienced shortages in the past? Natural gas is a good usable fuel as is coal and nuclear, but lessons of the past teach us not to put all of our eggs in one basket. The federal government does not have a good track record of predicting of where the power industry should go. The natural gas shortages of the 1970s and the Three-Mile Island Nuclear plant accident prompted the government to point the way to coal-fired generation in the 1970s and 1980s; however, now the federal government’s EPA is trying to tell us to meet a standard for coal no vendor can supply.

The third fundamental problem is one of locating power plants. The electric grid is sensitive to where users of power, grid strength, and generation stations are located with respect to one another. The three base-load plant types, all need to be located where there is a need to supply the power (typically near large population centers); furthermore, those resources must be located near a water source (for cooling and steam production), near a fuel source (rail/truck for nuclear and coal; pipeline for natural gas-fired); and where the plant can be connected to the electrical grid of sufficient strength to handle the power generation.

The EPA does not address the problems of greatly expanding natural gas in regions where there is no pipeline or large enough pipeline to handle the explosive growth that would be needed to handle the replacement of coal-fired generation.

Take Action NOW: If you would like to send the EPA and your congressional leaders a message as to your concerns on the newly proposed GHG rule I would encourage you to click on the link provided and do that now. Remember it took generations of our parents, grandparents, uncles, aunts, brothers, sisters, and friends to construct the electric system we have today. The proposed GHG rule as it stands today will bring historic changes to you and your families. No one wants loss of jobs, higher costs and lower reliability that this rule will ultimately lead to. Don’t delay send your message today!

The link to the Take Action Network is here:

If you are not supplied by a cooperative and still want your voice heard just choose SIPC in the drop down box (at the Take Action website) as a supporter of the cause. Tax payers of Williamson and surrounding Counties you can make your voice heard as well. SIPC is the largest property tax payer in Williamson County and provides economic benefit to surrounding counties through its support of local jobs and services purchased.

I would also encourage you to read the other two documents below to better understand what is occurring in Washington.

Follow the links below for more information
•••• NRECA Statement at May 24 NSPS Public Hearing••••
•••• Proposed CO2 Emission Limits for New Power Plants••••