The environmental community is reacting to concerns raised by electricity producers and providers in light of new EPA regulations when it comes to coal- and oil-burning power plants. Ahead of the EPA’s expected finalization of rules with regards to air toxics standards for coal- and oil-fired electric generating units Wednesday, the Natural Resources Defense Council says some of the dollar amounts offered suggested by electric generators and providers don’t add up.
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Midwest Independent Transmission System Operator (MISO) recently testified before the Illinois Commerce Commission that it would cost $33 billion to retrofit or replace generating stations, a cost passed onto consumers. Also MISO is worried about taking 61 GW of electricity off the grid all at once, and they’re concerned about the limited time to retrofit or shut down plants. NRDC senior attorney John Walke (WUHLK) says those concerns aren’t chiseled in stone. “Those claims and fears are very hotly disputed,” Walke said. “EPA proposed compliance costs that weren’t even in that neighborhood and they know what their rule is likely to require far more than these regional electricity organizations.” Walke points to the New England Power Generators Association. He says they don’t believe “the sky is falling scenarios are going to emerge at all.” Walke acknowledges that some costs will pass on to consumers, but he calls them minimal. As far as timelines and deadlines, Walke says there are provisions that would allow extensions. Cutting pollution is set to happen in two stages. The first – reduce toxic air emissions linked to coal and oil burning – begins in 2012. The second stage calls for better handling of coal combustion residuals, with a compliance preparation period to begin in 2013.