WASHINGTON – On May 22, Congressman Jason Smith sent a bi-partisan letter that he helped lead with 177 of his colleagues to Gina McCarthy, the Administrator of the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA). Congressman Smith’s letter asks that when EPA’s new rule on emission standards for existing power plants is released, the comment period be extended to 120 days
“Having just recently released rules that would place a de-facto ban on the construction of new coal-fired power plants, the EPA is already poised to release rules that will require new restrictions on existing coal-fired power plants. These plants provide cheap, reliable electricity to over 80 percent of the folks who live in the Eighth Congressional District – the costs for complying with these rules will be directly passed on to electric ratepayers, many of whom are already struggling to make ends meet.” said Smith.
This extension is needed to provide adequate time for affected individuals to express their concerns with the proposal and what it would mean for their utility bills.
“Affordable and reliable electricity is essential to the quality of life to our constituents. While we can all agree that clean air is important, EPA has an obligation to understand the impacts that regulations have on all segments of society. As one step toward fulfilling this obligation, we urge you to provide for a comment period of at least 120 days on the forthcoming new source performance standards for existing coal-based power plants,” wrote Smith.
Local utilities in the eighth congressional district are also concerned about what new regulations on existing coal-fired power plants would mean for their ratepayer’s electric bills:
“SEMO Electric Cooperative provides electricity to thousands of homes, businesses and farms. Each business decision we make causes our members’ electricity rates to go up or down. It is where the rubber hits the road. It is where we look our member-owners in the eye. The cost of electricity impacts our communities. Today, SEMO Electric’s residential rates are below $0.09 per unit of electricity. We are working hard to contain costs and make prudent business decisions. We aren’t perfect, but we are paying attention. Each month we have many members who can’t afford to pay their electricity bill. They can’t afford for the EPA to throw out common sense and issue regulations that would force us to raise rates in an extreme manner,” said Sean J. Vanslyke, CEO of SEMO Electric Cooperative.
“The economies of many communities in Central and Southeast Missouri – including Rolla’s, are built on reliant, efficient electric service to local customers with stable rates and at the lowest cost possible – all while being good environmental stewards. However, the prospect of more EPA regulation on our reliable, cost effective coal-based generation without regard for reasonable, timely, practical and affordable implementation or alternatives threatens the foundation of our regional economies,” said Rodney Bourne, General Manager for Rolla Municipal Utilities.
“In 1981, Sikeston, Missouri voted to invest in a 235 MW coal-fired power plant to stabilize retail rates for the long term. In addition to Sikeston, five other Missouri communities with an aggregate population of over 150,000 have benefited from the low production cost of the Sikeston Power Station. Sikeston has expended over $6 million dollars thus far to comply with EPA regulations, with an expected $20 million additional to comply with the recent more stringent rules set by EPA. These new EPA rules will definitely threaten the economic stability of Missouri families, businesses, and industries for nothing more than a “chicken little” philosophy regarding our ever changing God given climate,” said Ed Throop, General Manager for the Sikeston Board of Municipal Utilities