Bluefield Daily Telegraph, Bluefield, WV

Local News

June 11, 2011

EPA responds to American Electric Power on closing coal-fired plants

GLEN LYN, Va. — A spokesperson for the Environmental Protection Agency responded Friday to an announcement from American Electric Power on Thursday, stating that it would retire or down-size 11 coal-fired power plants, prompting the loss of 600 power plant jobs worth $40 million in wages in order to comply with EPA requirements.

“These long-overdue Clean Air Act standards will slash hazardous emissions of mercury and other acid gases, preventing thousands of asthma and heart attacks and premature deaths,” according to an e-mail message attributed to Roy Seneca, EPA Region 3 press officer in the Office of Public Affairs.

“Utilities have known for decades that these standards — which are still in the proposal stage and have a built-in 3-year-compliance timeline, have been coming for decades,” according to the e-mail. “They also know that they are free to approach EPA with serious, fact-based compliance plans, and that state governments also have the ability under the law to seek more time for the plants in their jurisdictions.

“The standard leverage existing American-made pollution control technologies that are already deployed at over half of the nation’s coal and oil-fired power plants — and will result in thousands of jobs across the country as workers install the technologies at plants,” according to Seneca’s e-mail response.

AEP projected that it will close and-or down-size the plants — including the Glen Lyn Plant in Giles County, Va., slated for retirement — by Dec. 31, 2014.

Michael G. Morris, AEP president and chief operating officer said EPA’s proposals represented “unrealistic compliance timelines,” and said that with more time and flexibility, AEP could meet the EPA’s environmental goals in a way that “will cost our customers less and will prevent permanent premature job losses,” according to the AEP press release.

— Contact Bill Archer at barcher@bdtonline.com

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