EPA mandate is flawed

Oklahoma Gas and Electric (OG&E) called the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA)’s plan to reduce haze in Oklahoma and neighboring states “flawed.” The plan contains numerous errors and would result in higher rates for ratepayers, the company said. The company also said the EPA rule should be rejected in favor of a proposed state plan.

In comments filed with the EPA, Patricia D. Horn, OG&E Vice President for governance, environmental, health and safety said, "It's disconcerting to see the agency fail to follow its own rules and guidelines in establishing both the cost and visibility improvement estimates underlying the proposed rule." EPA said in March that OG&E’s 477 MW Unit 4 and 517 MW Unit 5 at the Muskogee power plant, and the 1,046 MW Sooner plant in north central Oklahoma must install emission control technology, switch to natural gas or pursue a combination of both within three years. Public Service Company of Oklahoma’s 460 MW units 3 and 4 at the Northeastern plant fell under the same requirement.

Should the EPA rule be finalized as is, it could cost OG&E $1 billion to comply and result in little, if any, impact on regional haze, the company said.

The Governor's office, state Attorney General, Oklahoma Corporation Commissioners, Oklahoma Department of Environmental Quality and others have voiced opposition to the EPA plan saying. They contend the state has developed a plan that would be more effective and cost less than scrubbers.

The state plan calls for using low sulfur coal and giving affected utilities the option of burning less coal and more natural gas. The plan says a timetable would achieve the goals of the EPA’s regional haze rule while limiting the cost to customers.

"It is our desire that the EPA rethink its position and adopt the Oklahoma plan," Horn said. "Should the agency decide otherwise, we will explore options to ensure that we are doing what is in the best interest of all stakeholders.”

A decision by EPA is expected later this year.

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