War on Coal Claims More Casualties
The high cost of EPA regulations is forcing the retirement of a string of coal-fired power plants across the state of Georgia. Southern Company subsidiary Georgia Power Company announced yesterday it would seek approval from regulators to retire 15 units totaling 2,000 megawatts (MW) due in part to the significant cost of complying with existing and future environmental regulations. Georgia Power anticipates that nearly 500 employees will be impacted by the closures.
This announcement is the latest addition to a growing list of plant retirements prompted by EPA’s regulatory actions. Indeed, the North American Electric Reliability Corporation (NERC) recently issued its Long-Term Reliability Assessment, determining that over 70,000 MW of fossil-fired generating capacity – predominantly coal – will retire over the next 10 years. Notably, NERC explains that 90 percent of those retirements will take place over the next 5 years, aligning with the compliance deadlines of new EPA regulations, such as the Utility MACT Rule. If the forecasts are realized, plants responsible for 20 percent of the nation’s coal-fired generation will be lost by 2017.
The country’s increasing number of plant retirements translates to lost jobs, higher electricity costs, and reduced electric reliability. A recent study by NERA economic consulting forecasts that major recent and anticipated EPA regulations impacting coal-based electricity could eliminate hundreds of thousands of jobs annually and drive up electricity costs by as much as $67 billion. The National Association of Manufacturers also released a study that examined the cumulative impact of six of EPA’s major new rules, finding that the cost to manufacturers could reach into the hundreds of billions of dollars and eliminate millions of American jobs.
“This retirement announcement by Georgia Power is disappointing yet unsurprising. Already, we have seen a number of coal plants fall victim to the Obama administration’s assault on coal and I would not be surprised if there are even more closures in the months ahead,” said Energy and Power Subcommittee Chairman Ed Whitfield (R-KY). “We are blessed with an abundance of coal which is the source of affordable energy for millions of American families and countless businesses. We will not stand idly by as the EPA seeks to regulate coal into oblivion - House Republicans will continue pursuing sensible policies that ensure coal remains a prominent fixture in our 'all of the above' pursuit of North American energy independence."
“Under the Obama Administration, the EPA has aggressively levied job-killing regulations on affordable, proven energy sources,” said Rep. Phil Gingrey (R-GA), Vice Chairman of the Environment and the Economy Subcommittee. “As we’ve learned with Georgia Power, EPA's war on coal will continue to cost American workers their jobs. Achieving energy independence is paramount to our economic prosperity and national security, and House Republicans will continue working toward a balanced approach to achieve that goal.”