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Utilities, regulators discuss coming EPA rules

Published on NewsOK Modified: June 25, 2014 at 3:38 pm •  Published: June 25, 2014

NORTH LITTLE ROCK, Ark. (AP) — Arkansas utility executives met with state regulators and environmentalists Wednesday to begin organizing a plan for how to address new federal rules that will require the state to cut its climate-warming air pollution by nearly 45 percent by 2030.

The Arkansas Department of Environmental Quality and state Public Service Commission called the meeting to discuss coming rules being imposed by the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency. Participants said the EPA appears to be targeting coal-fired plants, particularly older ones.

ADEQ Director Teresa Marks said the state has a broad portfolio of fuel sources that power its electric generation plants: coal, natural gas, nuclear and hydroelectric. She said it will be a balancing act to adjust outputs and enact energy efficiency measures to meet EPA requirements.

"We have to determine where we get the most bang for our buck to meet the environmental goals and get to the (new federal) standard," Marks said.

The state is home to two regional electrical transmission organizations — Southwest Power Pool and Midcontinent Independent System Operator. Each manages the electric grid for utilities in multiple states.

Lanny Nickel, a vice president at Little Rock-based Southwest Power Pool, suggested a regional approach of working with other states.

"Whatever we do in Arkansas is going to affect states around you, and other states' (decisions) will affect Arkansas," Nickel said.

MISO regulatory adviser Chad Allen said it helps that the EPA is allowing states to develop their own plans, which will offer flexibility for them to work together. The EPA will step in and create plans for states that don't address the proposed regulations on their own.

Entergy Corp. attorney Chuck Barlow said the electricity supplier expects the regulations to be challenged in court. Entergy has four older coal-fired plants in Arkansas spread among two sites.

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