Seminole Electric Testifies at House Committee Hearing on EPA’s Clean Power Plan and the RPA
Tampa, Fla. – Today, Seminole Electric Cooperative (Seminole) CEO and General Manager Lisa D. Johnson testified before the House Committee on Energy and Commerce’s Subcommittee on Energy and Power at a hearing addressing the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency’s (EPA) proposed Clean Power Plan and the Ratepayer Protection Act.
During the hearing, entitled “EPA’s Proposed 111(d) Rule for Existing Power Plants, and H.R. __, the Ratepayer Protection Act,” Johnson shared the electric cooperative perspective. “While everyone can agree on the importance of responsible environmental stewardship, regulations that would eliminate whole industries, drastically raise electric rates, and call into question the reliability of our nation’s transmission grid are excessive and unnecessary,” said Johnson.
“The Ratepayer Protection Act would delay the Clean Power Plan to ensure that it survives legal challenge before taking effect, and provide states like Florida with an important safety valve for consumers and for the reliability of the grid,” Johnson continued.
In June 2014, the EPA published the proposed Clean Power Plan – a rule aimed at reducing greenhouse gas emissions from existing fossil fuel-fired power plants, including coal and natural gas-fired facilities. Specifically, the EPA proposes to reduce power sector carbon emissions 30 percent below 2005 levels by 2030. However, for Florida, the EPA is proposing that the state reduce its carbon emissions by 38 percent, which is greater than the national goal. Based on the EPA’s methodology for carbon reduction, Florida will have to close more than 90 percent of its coal-fired power generation by 2020 in order to meet the EPA’s goal.
Seminole is extremely concerned about the EPA’s proposed Clean Power Plan, as more than 50 percent of the energy its Members needed came from coal in 2014. In 1978, the U.S. enacted the Power plant and Industrial Fuel Use Act, which restricted new power plants from using oil or natural gas for power generation and encouraged the use of coal. Seminole’s coal-fired facility came online in 1984. The Act was not repealed until 1987. Seminole built coal because it did not have another economic option. As such, Seminole and its not-for-profit Member electric cooperatives should not be penalized.
One of Seminole’s highest priorities is to ensure that all generating resources are operated in an environmentally-responsible manner. Seminole has invested more than $530 million in environmental control technology and recycling practices. As a result of these investments, Seminole’s coal-fired generating facility is one of the cleanest power plants in the country.
The EPA should consider these expensive and extensive environmental controls installed in order to comply with other regulations implemented by the EPA. Otherwise, should the EPA’s rule be finalized, these costly investments will become stranded assets. Additionally, Seminole would have to build or purchase new power generation to replace the electricity produced from its coal-fired facility. Such a drastic and sudden shift in Seminole’s power portfolio will not only drive up the cost of electricity for our not-for-profit, Member cooperatives, but it could have sweeping unintended consequences to a fragile, but recovering workforce and economy in Florida.
“The Clean Power Plan has failed to recognize the economic impacts it would have on Seminole, our employees, our Member cooperatives, and the communities that we support,” Johnson concluded. “As such, Seminole supports ‘The Ratepayer Protection Act,’ and urges this Committee to continue its work to protect consumers.”
Seminole Electric Cooperative is one of the largest generation and transmission cooperatives in the country. Its mission is to provide reliable, competitively priced, wholesale electric power to its nine, not-for-profit, consumer-owned distribution electric cooperatives.
Approximately 1.4 million people and businesses in parts of 42 Florida counties rely on Seminole Member cooperatives for electricity. Seminole’s primary resources include the Seminole Generating Station (SGS) in northeast Florida and the Richard J. Midulla Generating Station (MGS) in south central Florida.