Entergy: New EPA Rules Will Cost Arkansans $2 Billion

Entergy: New EPA Rules Will Cost Arkansans $2 Billion
Hugh McDonald, CEO of Entergy Arkansas. (Karen E. Segrave)

Entergy Arkansas responded Friday to the Environmental Protection Agency’s proposed Federal Implementation Plan on Regional Haze, saying the new rule would impose more than $2 billion in costs on the utility's customers and co-owners "despite the lack of any need for, or benefit from, such a massive investment."

Hugh McDonald, president and CEO of Entergy Arkansas, said there are three main goals the company has in the next 15 years.

"What we’re trying to do … for our customers is come up with the combination of what is the best ... energy fuel mix that maintains reliability to the system," McDonald said. "No. 2 is cost effective …  to minimize negative rate increases to our customers, and three is meeting a increasingly required cleaner generation portfolio for the future."

In its official response to the EPA rule, Entergy Arkansas said it would:

  • Achieve early sulfur dioxide reductions by accepting lower sulfur dioxide emission limitations at its White Bluff and Independence coal-fired power plants;
  • Reduce nitrogen oxide emissions by installing control technology at all four of its coal-fired plants within three years of the final effective date; and
  • End coal-fired operations at White Bluff by 2028.

The EPA's guidelines for Entergy called for the company to install dry flue gas desulfurization technology, or "scrubbers," at White Bluff, which is near Redfield in Jefferson County, by 2021. But Entergy says that won't be necessary because it plans to stop burning coal there by 2028.

"We believe that the EPA’s proposal to require scrubbers on the Independence plants — there are two coal fire plants on the Independence site — we believe that that’s unnecessary to achieve the regional haze compliance requirements that are set out by the EPA and we think it goes beyond their authority," McDonald said.

The Independence site is near Newark in Independence County.

According to McDonald, the most significant of the proposals within Entergy’s response is to end coal fire operations at White Bluff's two units - the first in 2027 and the second in 2028.

"At that time the plant will be nearly 50 years old, and I think that is more economic, and we’re proposing to do that and not install billion-dollar scrubbers at the units," McDonald said.

The proposed changes over the next 15 years should cause "no measurable cost increases for customers." McDonald said they have proposed to use low-sulfur coal in all of the units, and the proposal is the "best option for customers" rather than building a billion-dollar scrubber.

Entergy is working to use other forms of energy as well, including purchasing a 450-acre solar facility near Stuttgart. They are also investigating more renewable energy options, natural gas and energy-efficiency programs.