Seminole Media Release on EPA’s Clean Power Plan
Seminole Electric Expresses Concern over the EPA’s Clean Power Plan and will Fight for Rational Energy and Environmental Policy
Tampa, Fla – Seminole Electric Cooperative (Seminole) is extremely concerned about the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency’s (EPA) proposal to regulate carbon dioxide emissions from existing power plants. On June 2, 2014, the EPA unveiled its “Clean Power Plan” aimed at reducing “power sector carbon emissions 30% below 2005 levels by 2030.” Seminole is one of the largest, not-for-profit generation and transmission cooperatives in the country providing reliable, competitively priced, wholesale electric power to its nine Member distribution electric cooperatives.
The EPA’s Clean Power Plan, through an overly broad, state-based approach, takes aim at coal-fired power generation, and specifically identifies areas where coal-fired power plants can be displaced. This is significant for Seminole and its Member distribution electric cooperatives, as Seminole will generate nearly 60 percent of the energy its Members need from coal in 2014. Seminole strives to keep electric bills stable and affordable while providing Members the power they need to improve their quality of life. However, the EPA’s proposal targets coal-fired power plants, thereby targeting the pocketbooks of cooperative consumers.
Seminole’s decision to build a coal plant was no coincidence. 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 The Act was not repealed until 1987. Now the EPA proposes to penalize consumers who buy power from electric utilities that burn coal – hurting millions of consumers and businesses in Florida and across the country.
One of Seminole’s highest priorities is 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, making its coal-fired generating facility one of the cleanest power plants in the country. To reduce emissions and as part of Seminole’s commitment to our communities – approximately 70 percent of the byproducts produced when coal is burned to generate electricity are recycled for use in products consumers use every day, including wallboard and concrete. Seminole believes it makes good business sense to have a diversified generation portfolio. In addition to its coal-based generation, Seminole also generates electricity from natural gas and has one of Florida’s largest renewable portfolios. Fuel diversity reduces exposure to changing market conditions and helps keep rates competitive. Limiting fuel resources for power generation, like coal, and displacing existing coal-fired power plants, as proposed by the EPA, will lead to increased costs for consumers.
Seminole will be thoroughly evaluating the EPA’s proposed rule and its potential impacts to its generation facilities. As a not-for-profit electric cooperative, any increases in the costs for power generation will be passed on to cooperative consumers. Seminole will join with electric cooperatives from around the country to fight for rational energy and environmental policy that does not harm the affordability, reliability, or sufficiency of electric supply to its Members.
Seminole’s mission is to provide reliable, competitively priced, wholesale electric power to its nine Member distribution electric cooperatives. Seminole owns and operates a 1,300-megawatt (MW) coal-fired power plant located in Putnam County, as well as an 810-MW natural gas-fired power plant located on the Polk/Hardee County border. Seminole also purchases energy from renewable energy facilities. Collectively, those contracted resources will provide nearly 7 percent of Seminole’s Member sales in 2014 – one of the largest renewable energy portfolios in the state. Approximately 1.4 million people and businesses in parts of 42 Florida counties rely on Seminole’s Member distribution cooperatives for electricity.
Nationally, electric cooperatives serve an average of 7.4 consumers per mile of line, whereas investor-owned utilities average 34 customers per mile and publicly-owned utilities, or municipals, average 48 consumers per mile. Seminole’s Member distribution cooperatives serve an average of 14 members per mile of line – although this number varies considerably across the state depending on growth and location. This is significant as it means electric cooperatives have a fewer number of consumers to spread their costs.