Utility MACT: $600 million in costs for 0.2% emissions reduction

No, that’s not a sign of an out-of-control EPA.

Bloomberg reports,

Power producers fighting the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency’s $11 billion rule to curb mercury and toxic emissions are gaining ground in a drive to revise part of the standard.

American Electric Power Co. (AEP) and Southern Co. (SO) asked the EPA to ease its planned limits on small-particle emissions from coal-fired plants. Otherwise the rule would require expensive changes to plants that already have pollution-controls, the companies said in a closed-door meeting with the EPA this year.

The agency is likely to adjust the particulates standard, according to Christine Tezak, a senior policy analyst at Robert W. Baird & Co. in McLean, Virginia. “They’ve done something constructive,” she said in an interview.

Here’s the problem for AEP:

For American Electric, the proposed standard will require eliminating 99.8 percent of emissions at plants where it has installed pollution-control equipment, up from the current 99.6 percent, costing more than $600 million, Chief Executive Officer Nick Akins said in an interview Nov. 2.

“You are really getting into a marginal return at a high cost to the economy and to ratepayers,” Akins said.

American Electric, based in Columbus, Ohio, said in June that proposed EPA rules would force it to close parts or all of 11 power plants, eliminating 600 jobs. Complying with the rules would cost $8 billion, most of it on cleaning up or shutting plants that lack pollution-control equipment, it said. [Emphasis added]

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