SWEPCO, an affiliate of a power company that has been the country’s biggest coal burner, is taking a coal-fired plant offline. This will mean cleaner air in northwest Louisiana and, incidentally, a reduction in costs for SWEPCO ratepayers in Arkansas.
SWEPCO is retiring the Dolet Hills coal-fired plant in Louisiana as part of a settlement with the Sierra Club in an Arkansas Public Service Commission proceeding. The aging plant is part of SWEPCO’s rate base in Arkansas. From the Sierra Club:
Dolet Hills, which is co-owned by Cleco Corporate Holdings LLC and AEP Southwestern Electric Power Company (SWEPCO), is the most expensive coal plant in Louisiana, and emits more Carbon Dioxide, Sulfur Dioxide, and Nitrogen Oxide per unit of electricity than all other power plants in the state. Sierra Club’s analysis showed that permanently retiring Dolet Hills will save its customers more than $60 million a year in their electric bills, that the Dolet Hills power plant consistently costs more to operate than it generates in revenue, and that the plant should be retired as soon as possible. The analysis also showed that replacing Dolet Hills with more affordable, cleaner wind and solar energy generation would create hundreds of sustainable jobs for Louisiana.
This comes despite Donald Trump’s push to prop up the coal industry. Wind and solar are better sources than coal and cheap gas has also propelled changes in the electric generating business away from coal. SWEPCO still has a way to go, with 83 percent of its power generated by coal.
Glen Hooks, director of the Sierra Club’s Arkansas Chapter, said:
“Clean solar and wind energy are now both incredibly affordable and more efficient than ever before. The Arkansas Sierra Club is proud to support a settlement that keeps Arkansas ratepayers from propping up an inefficient out-of-state coal plant. This settlement saves Arkansas ratepayers money, moves us away from dirty coal, and will improve air quality in the Natural State.”
I’m surprised Attorney General Leslie Rutledge hasn’t issued a statement decrying the loss of a customer for the coal industry. Republican attorneys general have pumped huge sums from the fossil fuel industry to elect candidates like Rutledge to fight clean air and water rules.