Southern Company (SO) is reducing its coal fuming and making the rest comply with EPA regulations, and is surprised to discover that won’t cost nearly as much or take nearly as long as it complained only 8 months ago. But remember SO isn’t even abandoning coal and is shifting to big-plant baseload natural gas and nuclear while avoiding distributed solar and wind power.
Cassandra Sweet wrote for Dow Jones and the WSJ 25 July 2012, 2nd UPDATE: Southern Co. Second-Quarter Profit Up as Economy Improves,
How much coal generation is that? SO’s Plant Scherer near Juliette, Georgia, the largest power plant in the western hemisphere, burning 12 million tons of Wyoming coal every year, is the “nation’s No. 1 producer of carbon dioxide — the heat-trapping gas that is held chiefly responsible in models of global warming” (number two is SO’s Plant Bowen near Cartersville and number three is SO’s Plant Miller in Quinton, Alabama). Each of Plant Scherer’s four plants is rated at 880 megawatts, or 3520 MW total. But don’t get your hopes up: one of those four plants is owned by Florida Power and Light and JEA of Jacksonville, Florida. Why should Florida power companies want to shut down a plant that leaves the pollution in Georgia while exporting the power to Florida?
The company said it expects to spend nearly $1 billion less than previously planned on pollution-control equipment at its coal plants, thanks to changes the Environmental Protection Agency made to its final rules limiting mercury and other emissions from coal plants. The changes provided utilities more flexibility in the ways they can meet the new limits.
Southern Co. said it now expects to spend about $1.8 billion to install pollution controls at its plants between 2012 and 2014.
So EPA rules are not as bad for SO as SO Chief Operating Officer Anthony Topazi said back in December:
“We will experience rolling blackouts or rationing power if we don’t have simply the time to comply,” Topazi says.
Not only can they deal with EPA regulations after all, but they won’t need anywhere near six years to do it. Remember that next time SO cries wolf about regulations. SO isn’t really incompetent: just whiny.