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INDUSTRY NEWS HEADLINES


May/June 2014 Senate Dems Urge Obama to Ease Up on Coal


NRECA/The Hill/AP—In a May 14 letter, seven Senate Democrats—Sens. Heitkamp (N.D.), Donnelly (Ind.), Landrieu (La.), Pryor (Ark.), Warner (Va.), Manchin (W.Va.), and McCaskill (Mo.)—urged Pres. Obama to scale-back proposed carbon limits on new coal-fired power plants. "The emissions standards in


the proposed rule are not based on technology that has been adequately demonstrated on a commercial scale," the letter stated. The second phase of Obama's


climate policy affecting existing coal facilities are expect to go into effect this month. AP Energy Writer Jonathan


Fahey wrote in a May 21 article, Cleaner Air Could Mean Higher Electric Bills, "Electricity prices are probably on their way up across much of the U.S. as coal-fired plants, the dominant source of cheap power, shut down in response to environmental regulations and economic forces." Retrofits, plant closings, forced


use of cleaner but more expensive natural gas, wind, and solar will lead to a predicted 4 percent rise on average in retail power prices and an additional 13 percent by


2020, reports a Energy Department forecast which does not include costs of upcoming EPA rules. "Coal is the workhorse of the


U.S. power system . . . [it produces] 40 percent of the nation's electricity, more than any other fuel. Because it is cheap and abundant and can be stored on power plant grounds, it helps keep prices stable and power flowing even when demand spikes," said Clair Moeller, who oversees transmission and technology for much of the electric grid between Minnesota and Louisiana. Natural gas, 26 percent of


generation, is subject to extreme swings in prices. This past winter saw power prices skyrocket 1,000 percent in some regions while it was difficult or impossible to get at times in others. Current EPA rules are expected


to force the shut down of 68 coal plants across 20 states by 2017 while American Electric Power ran 89 percent of its coal plants this past winter to keep up with demand. This raises concern that the system soon won't have enough flexibility to handle severe weather making blackouts more likely. "It's a warning of what may be to come," Moeller said.


Central Oklahoma


OG&E EPA Compliance Could Mean Rate Increase for Customers


NewsOK—OG&E is expected to release plans to deal with federal emissions regulations in June. It expects to spend between $1 billion and $1.5 billion on power plant upgrades, modifications, or retirements and to recoup those costs through increased rates. Independent investment


research analyst Andrew Bischof of Morningstar said, “Given the recent Supreme Court decision upholding the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency's Cross-State Air Pollution Rule, we think OG&E will be required to comply with the regional haze standards and retrofit its coal plants with emissions control equipment.” OG&E’s parent company,


OGE Energy, released its first- quarter results May 1. OGE had net income of $49.3 million, or 25 cents per share, in the first quarter of 2014. That compared to net income of $23.1 million, or 12 cents per share, in the first quarter of 2013.


June 2014


News Magazine


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