EPA's Clean Power Plan Fuels Carbon Debate

by Marty Cook  on Monday, Jul. 7, 2014 12:00 am  

Highley said he and others in the energy business have grown accustomed to being the “evil guys in the black hats.” He said he is just trying to protect his customers by making sure electricity is cheap, reliable and clean — all of which he says coal-fired power plants can deliver.

The older plants, such as White Bluff, would need what the industry calls scrubbers installed to make them cleaner, but that is a much smaller investment than closing them down entirely.

“We would prefer to invest in scrubbers to clean up that plant and let it run for another 20 or 30 years,” Highley said. “You could recover that cost in energy savings easily because it’s an inexpensive plant to run. I know there are people with strong opinions on coal and just want to see it all gone.”

Diversify Energy Sources

Marks, the AEDQ director, said the EPA proposal is a good opportunity for Arkansas to expand its energy portfolio by increasing its use of sources such as wind and solar. That thought was echoed by Ken Smith, the policy director of the Arkansas Advanced Energy Association, which represents more than 80 companies involved in alternate energy sources and energy-efficient technologies.

Smith called a power plant such as White Bluff “a dinosaur” and said reducing a reliance on coal could spur new energy initiatives. Smith said a key to reducing emissions is to improve the overall energy efficiency of homes and businesses so that less energy is used.

“The American people are going to come out on the long end of the stick instead of the short end of the stick,” Smith said. “The rule is on the right track. If we put our minds together we can do this, and we can do it in a way that will be cost-effective and minimize impact on our companies and residential ratepayers.”

Hooks agreed that Arkansas needs to invest in better and cleaner energy technology. He said Arkansas could be using 100 percent clean energy in 30 years if there is enough “political will.”

“I’m hopeful when my kids are my age, their kids will look back and say, ‘You guys burned coal? How stupid was that?’” Hooks said.



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