The Norman Transcript

Columns

September 10, 2013

Count the cost of emission requirements

NORMAN — The Oklahoma Corporation Commission’s recent dismissal of the application of Public Service Company of Oklahoma involving PSO’s settlement with the Environmental Protection Agency is by no means an end to the issues or their potential cost to all Oklahomans.

For PSO customers, it’s important to understand that the company and the EPA have already signed the agreement dealing with the utility’s approach to meeting certain EPA emission requirements. Assuming final approval from the EPA, which has opened the public comment period on the agreement, there will be a cost, and it is a cost the utility will no doubt try and recover from its ratepayers.

PSO’s rough estimate of the cost is $88 million a year, about an 11 percent rise in the average bill. Critics of the plan say it will be much more. The agreement also was signed by the Oklahoma Department of Environmental Quality, the Oklahoma Secretary of Environment and the Sierra Club before it was submitted to the Corporation Commission.

Meanwhile, Oklahoma Gas and Electric and Oklahoma Attorney General Scott Pruitt have taken a different approach and launched a legal challenge against the EPA. But even if the state or the utility wins a victory, there still will have to be a plan and price tag for dealing with federal environmental mandates.

Regardless of where you stand in the debate over proposed or actual federal rules regarding power plant emissions, the costs involved will impact far more than just our electric bills.

The cost of new emission requirements is of huge concern not only to residential consumers but Oklahoma’s employers, as well. From oil and gas production and exploration to manufacturing and retailing, the price of electricity is a critical element to the question of success or failure and whether there will be more or fewer jobs.

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