Federal rules create black cloud over coal-fired power plants' future, Ky. energy secretary says

07/09/2013 06:07 PM

New federal rules are likely curtail coal’s role in generating power, which could lead to higher energy prices in Kentucky, the state’s energy secretary warned lawmakers on Tuesday.

Len Peters, the state’s energy and environment secretary, told members of the legislature’s Natural Resources and Environment Committee that new targets aimed at curbing carbon dioxide emissions from new and existing power plants will drastically change the landscape of electricity generation. And on June 25, President Barack Obama called for an end of U.S. support for financing of new coal-fired plants abroad with a few exceptions.

But Peters said no one will know for sure the effect until the final rules are revised for existing and new plants next year. Other key questions remain including how much input states will have in the process, how much flexibility there will be regionally or within the state and how fast the rules will be implemented.

One thing that Peters told the committee that he was sure of is that changes will hit the pocketbooks of every Kentuckian.

“We know that energy costs are going to be impacted and it’s really very early to figure out precisely what that’s going to be,” Peters said.

Economically, Kentucky is vulnerable to higher energy prices because it relies on manufacturers that employ more than 200,000. Some of those firms, like aluminum smelters in Western Kentucky, use high levels of electricity.

If the cost becomes too high for businesses to stay in Kentucky, they are likely to take their jobs overseas.

Peters said he believes the best solution for the commonwealth’s future is to diversify its energy sources.

Gov. Steve Beshear and several other governors urged the EPA’s reconsideration of the rules.

Peters also talked about several important dates coming up which include:

  • September 20, 2013 — Issue revised New Source Performance Standards proposed rule
  • June 1, 2014 — Issue proposed rules for existing sources (under Clean Air Acts Sections and modified sources)
  • June 1, 2015 – Issue final rules for existing and new sources
  • June 30, 2016 – Deadline for states to submit implementation plans for existing sources.


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