Southern Company claims to be incompetent regarding new EPA rules

Why can’t Southern Company do what other power companies can do in implementing the new coal plant pollution control rules EPA is about to promulgate?

Elizabeth Shogren wrote for NPR today, EPA To Unveil Stricter Rules For Power Plants. She described new rules for coal plants EPA is going to release in the next few weeks, including controls on mercury, “arsenic, acid gases and other pollutants.” Southern Company doesn’t like that.

“It’s physically impossible to build the controls, the generation, the transmission and the pipelines needed in three years,” says Anthony Topazi, chief operating officer for Southern Company, which provides electricity to nearly 4 million homes and hundreds of thousands of businesses in the Southeast.

Topazi says electricity rates will go up, putting marginal companies out of business. He says unless his company gets six years, it will not be able to keep the lights on.

“We will experience rolling blackouts or rationing power if we don’t have simply the time to comply,” Topazi says.

Other power companies see no problem:
Paul Allen, senior vice president of Constellation Energy, says that’s not his company experience. Constellation installed controls for mercury and other pollutants on its big power plant outside Baltimore, and he says it took a little more than two years. At the peak of construction, it put 1,300 people to work as well.

“We don’t believe jobs will be destroyed, and we do think that it’s time to get on with this work,” Allen says.

Allen says the power industry had plenty of warning that this was coming.

So why can’t Southern Company do it if Constellation Energy can?

Maybe if Southern Co.’s offshoot Georgia Power wasn’t so busy passing through Construction Work in Progress (CWIP) for new nuclear plants to customers, and getting permission from GA PSC to pass nuclear cost overruns to customers, they’d be able to focus on cleaning up coal plants. Or, better, get on with clean renewable energy (solar, wind, conservation, and efficiency) and shut down some coal plants.


PS: Owed to Seth Gunning.