Kansas Electric Utility Sues Over EPA Deadline – Black Outs To Come


Westar Energy is suing the EPA.

The Kansas electric utility, Westar Energy  has just sued the EPA over its air emissions deadline of December 15. The Kansas Attorney General is also filing a suit against the EPA.

The Kansas City Star reports:

“We asked the EPA for more time, but they tell us they’re enforcing the Dec. 15 deadline,” said Westar Energy CEO Mark Ruelle. “So we’re pushing back. KCPL, Sunflower and us have asked a court to stay the rule. It’s not our style, but we’ve sued through the court in D.C. and the Kansas Attorney General has filed his own lawsuit.”

At issue is the schedule to meet reductions in the emission of sulfur dioxide and nitrogen oxide from coal-burning plants in Kansas.

From when the EPA published its preliminary regulations last year to its final proposal that came out this summer, the rules changed, requiring the utility to cut its emissions another 40 percent because of pollutants the agency argues drift into other states.

“We’ve cut sulfur by 80 percent and NOX (nitrogen oxide) by 50 percent,” Ruelle said, from highs in the years 2002 and 2003. “We’ve still a ways to go, but we have a plan to get there. Then this rule came out based on emissions crossing state lines. It came out in July and it says we must comply by Jan. 1. You can’t.”

According to Ruelle, his company can meet the regulations by 2018 but not before. The result could be black outs. The Star reports:

A separate study by the Southwest Power Pool agrees with Westar’s assessment.

The Southwest Power Pool, or SPP, is a seven-state regional transmission organization mandated by the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission to ensure reliable supplies of power, adequate transmission infrastructure, and competitive wholesale prices of electricity for its region.

In a September letter to the EPA, which used the word concern seven times, the organization warned an initial “reliability analysis” of utility operations under the EPA timeline pointed to hundreds of potential system overloads in the region and more than a thousand cases of system voltages going too low to meet mandated levels.

The result, the letter advised, could include “the potential of cascading blackouts similar to what occurred in 2003 or which could require the shedding of firm load, or localized rolling blackouts initiated by utilities within the SPP region, to avoid more widespread and uncontrolled blackouts and to remain in compliance with reliability standards.”

According to David Springe with the Citizens’ Utility Ratepayer Board: “The EPA really kind of ambushed the utility in terms of the process.”  But, of course, that’s the way the EPA operates. EPA Administrator Lisa Jackson is committed to destroying the coal industry by any means at her disposal. Creating unreasonable deadlines is one tactic used repeatedly by the EPA.

Read more on this at the Kansas City Star …

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