EPA proposes carbon reduction plan for existing power plants

Effects on Kansas utilities not clear yet

0 | Environment, Government

— The Environmental Protection Agency has announced a plan to reduce carbon emissions from existing power plants nationwide. The agency’s proposal leaves it up to the states to decide how best to meet the goals set by the plan.

The EPA wants Kansas to reduce carbon emissions over the next 15 years by 23 percent from the levels measured in 2012, but officials with utilities serving Kansas don’t know yet what that might mean for them. Katie McDonald, spokeswoman for Kansas City Power & Light, said it's too early to know how much the company might be expected to reduce its release of carbon.

“We are still reviewing the details of the proposed rule. Obviously it’s quite lengthy, but we are pleased with the state flexibility that’s provided in the rule,” McDonald said.

KCP&L uses coal to generate more than 80 percent of the electricity it produces. The company is starting to focus more on renewable energy and reducing the demand for electricity.

According to the EPA, 63 percent of the electricity generated in Kansas comes from coal. Kansas Gov. Sam Brownback issued a statement denouncing the proposed regulations.

“Today’s news that the EPA will be imposing even more expensive regulations on Kansas utilities, and doing so without approval from Congress, is very troubling as it further disrupts the balance that must be achieved between protecting the environment and growing the economy,” Brownback said.

Sen. Pat Roberts vowed to try to prevent the rule from being finalized. Meanwhile, Congressman Tim Huelskamp, whose district includes the Sunflower Electric generating station near Holcomb, said the proposal would cause electric rates to skyrocket.

In her remarks outlining the new plan, EPA Administrator Gina McCarthy anticipated that criticism.

“Any small, short-term change in electricity prices would be within normal fluctuations the power sector already deals with. And any small price increase — think about the price of a gallon of milk a month — is dwarfed by huge benefits," she said "This is an investment in better health and a better future for our kids.”

The proposal calls for states to submit their carbon reduction plans to the EPA by June 2016.

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