PSC wants to hear from utilities about proposed EPA regulations

power tower_rgbJACKSON — The Mississippi Public Service Commission is seeking input from others, including utilities, in its efforts to fight proposed federal rules that would cut carbon dioxide emissions from Mississippi’s power plants.

The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency, as part of a nationwide effort, proposed in June that Mississippi’s carbon dioxide emissions from power plants be 38 percent lower in the year 2030 compared to 2005.

Commissioners voted yesterday to open the proceeding, acknowledging that it could also become a way to cope with the rules if they’re finalized in their current form. They voted in June to submit comments opposing the rules.

“We’re adamantly opposed to some of the rules,” said Central District Commissioner Lynn Posey, a Republican. “We want to explore every possibility we can to make it better for the state of Mississippi to double-check the facts and double-check their proposals.”

“I don’t think you can get more against it than I am,” said Northern District Commissioner Brandon Presley, a Democrat. Presley said he believes changes would drive up power rates.

Mississippi’s 2012 carbon emission rate was 1,130 pounds per megawatt hour of energy produced, the 12th lowest in the nation, because the state gets so much power from the Grand Gulf nuclear plant and burning natural gas.

Mississippi would choose how to meet that goal and could work with other states to comply. The goals are based in part on some coal-fired power plants already expected to close.

The biggest contributor to carbon dioxide emissions is burning coal. EPA says Mississippi got about 13 percent of its electricity from coal in 2012.

Some utilities are more dependent on coal than others. Mississippi Power Co., a unit of the Atlanta-based Southern Co., generated 39 percent of its power from coal in 2013. It owns coal plants in Escatawpa and Gulfport. Southern Co. also owns a coal-fired plant near Ackerman that’s operated by a contractor and sells power on the wholesale market. South Mississippi Electric Power Association, which supplies many cooperatives and a few cities, owns a coal plant near Purvis. Entergy Corp. and the Tennessee Valley Authority own no coal plants in Mississippi, although they do have them elsewhere.

Last month, Gov. Phil Bryant joined eight other Republican governors in signing a letter opposing the rules, warning that it would cost too much money and end up costing jobs.

The EPA is expected to look at the comments and finalize the rules in 2015.

 

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