Seminole Media Release on EPA’s NSPS
On September 20, 2013, the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) proposed its revised rule issuing New Source Performance Standards (NSPS) for carbon dioxide emissions from new affected coal or natural gas-fired electric generating units.
In the revised rule, the EPA proposes carbon limits for any new natural gas or coal-fired power plant that sells more than 1/3 of its output to the electric grid. The standard for new coal plants is so stringent it will require utilities to capture approximately 50 percent of the carbon dioxide they could emit. Therefore, new coal-fired units would have to install very costly carbon capture and sequestration (CCS) technology. While EPA contends that CCS is commercially available and economically viable, there are no full-scale CCS systems operating on any coal burning power plants.
Seminole Electric Cooperative (Seminole) uses a variety of generation resources including coal, natural gas, and renewable energy. Because this rule does not apply to existing sources, it does not have any immediate impacts on Seminole’s natural gas and coal-fired power plants. Any new fossil fuel generation would have to meet the emission standards once finalized by the EPA. By requiring unproven and costly CCS technology, the proposed rule would make coal an uneconomic choice to meet Seminole Members’ future needs. In June 2014, EPA is scheduled to release its rule addressing carbon emissions from existing sources. The existing source rule making will be far more significant to Seminole as it could affect Seminole’s natural gas and coal-fired facilities.
Seminole relies on coal for approximately 50 percent of the energy its Members need. Seminole completed construction of these coal units in the early 1980s. This was a time, following the first OPEC oil embargo, when Congress disallowed the continued use of natural gas for power generation and required that new power plants use coal as the primary fuel source. Over the years, Seminole has invested more than $530 million in environmental pollution controls, making its coal-fired generating facility one of the cleanest power plants in the country.
Seminole’s mission is to keep electric bills affordable while providing Members the power they need to improve their quality of life. Seminole supports using a diverse fuel mix including renewables, natural gas, and coal to generate electricity. Seminole will join with electric cooperatives from around the country to fight any proposals that will adversely affect the cost and the reliability of energy to our Members.
Seminole is one of the largest generation and transmission cooperatives in the country. Headquartered in Tampa, Fl., Seminole’s mission is to provide reliable, competitively priced, wholesale electric power to its 10 Members, which include four of the largest distribution cooperatives in the United States. 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 power plant located on the Polk/Hardee County border. Approximately 1.7 million people and businesses in parts of 45 Florida counties rely on Seminole Member distribution cooperatives for electricity.