The Arkansas Public Service Commisson began hearings yesterday on the proposal by SWEPCO and the Arkansas Electric Cooperatives to be allowed to charge ratepayers more than $400 million to retrofit their Flint Creek coal-burning generating plant so it can meet stricter air quality standards.
The Sierra Club is fighting the proposal, offering less costly options to keep the plant running. The PSC staff also has opposed the proposal. How bad is the idea? Even Attorney General Dustin McDaniel, who’s been overly friendly to the coal burners in the past, has taken an opposition position.
One alternative: Convert the plant to gas generating fuel. You’d think in the land of the Fayetteville Shale, the Shale Caucus would be front and center, with Jason Rapert in his cheerleader outfit, fighting for use of gas. But the Kochs and American Electric Power, the coal-hungry behemoth that owns SWEPCO, think the future is coal (it’s all dirty, by the way; that “clean coal” gimmick is just a marketing tool). The Coops are heavily invested in coal, too.
The Sierra Club says:
This hearing has the potential to be very important to the energy mix in Arkansas—Flint Creek is 558 MW and was built in 1978. Should the ratepayers of Arkansas be on the hook for hundreds of millions of dollars to prop up an aging dirty coal plant, or should we consider cleaner, less costly sources?
Here’s the PSC docket. (Corrected link.) The proposal would require almost a 4 percent retail rate increase.