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Public Service Co. of Oklahoma plans to spend $350 million for environmental compliance

Public Service Co. of Oklahoma said it will retire its last two coal-fired units in Oklahoma by 2026 under a pending settlement with the Environmental Protection Agency, state environmental agencies and the Sierra Club. Customers could see higher rates of more than 10 percent beginning in 2016.
by Paul Monies Modified: September 26, 2012 at 9:55 pm •  Published: September 27, 2012

A group of manufacturing companies, the Oklahoma Industrial Energy Consumers, took issue with PSO's integrated resource plan. They said coal remains a cheaper option for customers and PSO didn't take into account a changing legal and regulatory environment.

A federal appeals court stopped implementation of the EPA's regional haze rules in June so it could study a case brought by Oklahoma Attorney General Scott Pruitt, Oklahoma Gas and Electric Co. and OIEC.

PSO's plan criticized

Tom Schroedter, an attorney for OIEC, said PSO's plan would be harmful to businesses and industry.

“The results of our assessment indicate that the settlement agreement will cripple the state of Oklahoma's manufacturing sector, which we believe is the backbone of the Oklahoma economy,” Schroedter said.

PSO representatives said the utility fully analyzed its options and determined coal-fired generation will continue to be subject to environmental rules from the Clean Air Act and the Clean Water Act.

“We've been studying this for over two years in detail,” said Steve Fate, PSO's director of business operations support. “We've looked at it every which way. At this point, we've got to move to start executing on the plan because all of the options have very long lead times to implement them. … Our main focus is making sure the lights stay on, that we have a reliable supply, that we have a plan we can implement over a reasonable period of time so we can maintain reliability.”

Whitney Pearson, with the Sierra Club's Beyond Coal campaign, said criticism of PSO's integrated resource plan was shortsighted. The plan is good for public health, the environment and Oklahomans' pocket books, she said.

“This plan not only resolves the company's most significant environmental issues, it creates a manageable transition and continued reliability for the customers,” Pearson said. “PSO understood that in order to comply with environmental safeguards, rates would increase under any scenario. As shown in PSO's draft (plan), the company chose the least-cost scenario.”

PSO's environmental compliance plan needs final approval from the three-member Corporation Commission. Its separate, integrated resource plan should be finalized by Oct. 1.

by Paul Monies
Energy Reporter
Paul Monies is an energy reporter for The Oklahoman. He has worked at newspapers in Texas and Missouri and most recently was a data journalist for USA Today in the Washington D.C. area. Monies also spent nine years as a business reporter and...
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