Lake Tuscaloosa News Article

Southern Company CEO Tells Congress That Proposed Standard Will Impact Economy and Electric Reliability and Affordability

Alabama Power
Posted: 4/16/2011

Southern Company

Thomas A Fanning, chairman, president and CEO of Southern Company, today told members of Congress that proposed regulations aimed at emissions from power plants could reduce reliability, raise electricity prices, slow economic development and eliminate American jobs.

"My message today is that the reliability and affordability that Americans deserve could be at risk," Fanning said in testimony before the House Subcommittee on Energy and Power in Washington.

The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency has proposed regulation on further reducing air emissions from coal-fired power plants. The new regulation, known as Utility MACT (maximum achievable control technology), covers 125 different types of emissions. The EPA has allowed 60 days for comment.

"This is nearly a thousand-page rule with nearly a thousand more pages of technical supporting documents," Fanning said. "Sixty days is plainly inadequate for the industry to analyze this rule and its effects and offer meaningful comments."

Of greater concern, said Fanning, is the three years mandated for compliance.

"In just three years, utilities would have to develop compliance strategies for each plant, engineer solutions on a unit-by-unit basis, obtain required environmental permits, gain state public utility commission regulatory approval, actually procure and install the required technology, test the technology and implement any operational changes, and then demonstrate full compliance," Fanning said.

A study conducted for the Edison Electric Institute by ICF, Fanning testified, concluded that for the U.S. by 2015 over 80,000 megawatts of scrubbers and over 160,000 megawatts of fabric filter baghouses would have to be constructed and almost 80,000 megawatts of current coal capacity would have to be replaced. 

"As the CEO of a company that has installed more pollution controls than any other utility," Fanning said, "I tell you that this cannot be done in three years."

Fanning also stressed that the Utility MACT proposal could cost the industry as much as $300 billion over the next five years.

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