Trump’s plan for coal doesn’t deter oklahoma utilities conversion to natural gas news gas after eating dairy


"Our compliance with regional haze has driven a lot of the work we are doing today," Alford said, noting Trump ordered a review of rules that would regulate emissions of carbon dioxide. "We are responding to regulations around regional haze and mercury and not carbon dioxide, which is the principle component addressed by the Clean Power Plan."

The rule regulating regional haze was promulgated in 2005 and implemented in Oklahoma nearly nine years later following lengthy legal battles. Implementation included an agreement by American Electric Power-Public Service Company of Oklahoma retire one of two coal-fired generators by April 2016 and the second by December 2026.

An annual report filed in February by OG&E with the Securities Exchange Commission notes a Jan. 4, 2019, date of compliance with the Regional Haze Rule. The conversion from coal to natural gas to fuel two generation units at Muskogee also will address mercury emissions regulated by another rule that prompted the Grand River Dam Authority to pursue a similar conversion strategy.

Justin Alberty, GRDA’s corporate communications director, said Trump’s directive will have no impact on that utility’s plan to shut down a coal-burning unit it operates. Another coal unit that was damaged in July by fire is being repaired, Alberty said, and will continue to operated with improved emissions control equipment.

"As far as impact on GRDA’s coal unit, I can tell you that this week’s action does not change the plans GRDA has to shutdown Unit 1 at the Grand River Energy Center," Alberty said. "Going forward, we will be increasing our reliance on Oklahoma natural gas while scaling back on coal usage."

GRDA, a self-sustaining utility created by state law that generates and sells electricity for resale to municipalities among other things, is bringing a new natural gas-fired unit online. Alberty described Unit 3 as a "combined cycle gas generation plant" that "will be fueled by Oklahoma natural gas and is the most-efficient generator of its type in the entire United States."

With regard to greenhouse gas emissions that would be regulated by the Clean Power Plan, Alford said Oklahoma was on track to meet carbon-reduction goals before implementation was stayed pending litigation. Compliance with previous regulations, he said, had resulted with — and reduce even further — carbon dioxide emissions.

"From an Oklahoma perspective, our state was — and is — well positioned to manage through the Clean Power Plan," Alford said, noting the EPA’s request for a federal court to delay any ruling on the legal challenges still pending while the rule is being reviewed. "There have been — and will be — a number of coal plant retirements and coal-to-gas conversions in the state that will put us in a good place."

Alford said utility companies would be unwise to reverse any plans already made due to the regulatory uncertainty that exists. He said investments already made in plant conversions make it highly unlikely for utilities that have shifted away from coal to convert back to the fuel.