Co-Op Electric Companies Cry Foul Over Now-Stalled EPA Clean Power Plan

(REUTERS/Jonathan Ernst)

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Chris White Tech Reporter
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The Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) miscalculated the cost the now-stalled Clean Power Plan (CPP) would have on small electric co-operatives, according to a report from one of the U.S.’s largest co-operative associations.

The Supreme Court put President Barack Obama’s administration and EPA created environmental plan on ice yesterday, with the Court arguing the plan cannot go forward until its legal troubles are dealt with.

Nevertheless, the National Rural Electric Cooperative Association (NRECA) maintains that the EPA ignored the effects the CPP will have on small co-operatives while the regulatory agency was conducting its cost-benefit analysis.

As a result of the miscalculations, NRECA noted, the regulations will cost co-ops nearly 33 times more than the EPA initially claimed, depending on how the companies approach the regulations. The cost-counting issue will lead to an additional $2.5 billion to $3.6 billion in 2030.

“EPA has underestimated the Clean Power Plan’s costs to small entity electric cooperatives by a drastic amount,” NRECA interim CEO Jeffrey Connor, told reporters last week.

“This translates into huge price increases for co-ops and challenges their ability to provide safe, affordable and reliable electricity to their member owners,” he added.

The EPA targeted its estimations only toward large co-operatives that own a majority share in coal and oil companies, thereby dimming the actual costs associated with the CPP, according to the NRECA.

NRECA argued that the U.S.’s largest environmental agency counted only 17 co-ops as small businesses when it evaluated the breadth of the CPP, but the EPA instead counted 31 co-ops in its final analysis.

“EPA has conducted an extensive cost-benefit analysis of the final Clean Power Plan, “Melissa J. Harris, the press secretary with the EPA, told The Daily Caller News Foundation through email.

The analysis showed that the final plan’s has social and public health benefits worth nearly $35 million to $54 million by 2030, “far outweighing the costs of $8.4 billion,” Harris added.

In short, the costs associated with the plan, both for co-operative and large fossil fuel companies, are not as important as the accrued benefits. The EPA’s number crunching excluded Tampa-based Seminole Electric Cooperative, whose officials say the rule could force the plant to shudder its doors.

Last week, one of the country’s largest coal companies, Alliance Coal announced it would be laying off nearly 300 employees this year, due in large part to “overarching regulations” created by the Obama administration and the EPA.

Missouri-based Arch Coal was also hit by the downturn in the coal markets, as it was forced to file Chapter 11 bankruptcy earlier this year.”

The EPA “substantially understates the cost associated with complying with the [rule],” NRECA concluded.

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