* OG&E and AEP have three years to clean plants
* Scrubbers could cost $700 million at AEP plant
* Senator Inhofe criticizes EPA for overreach
(Recasts, adds EPA and AEP comments)
By Scott DiSavino
NEW YORK, March 8 The U.S. Environmental
Protection Agency (EPA) wants OG&E Corp (OGE.N) and American
Electric Power Co Inc (AEP) (AEP.N) to reduce air pollution at
three coal-fired power plants in Oklahoma or convert the
facilities to natural gas.
The EPA acted because the state's plan did not adequately
reduce sulfur dioxide (SO2) emissions enough to meet the
regional haze requirements under the Clean Air Act.
AEP spokesman Stan Whiteford said, "We're disappointed the
federal EPA did not go along with the state implementation
plan, which was carefully designed to provide flexibility to
develop reasonable and cost effective approaches that meet the
objectives of the environmental rules."
Whiteford said AEP has had lots of experience installing
scrubbers at its eastern coal plants and estimated it could
cost $700 million and take about five years to design,
engineer, permit and install new SO2 scrubbers on the two units
at its Northeastern plant.
The EPA however only gave the utilities three years to add
the scrubbers, switch to natural gas or use a combination of
The EPA wants OG&E Corp (OGE.N) to clean up the
477-megawatt Unit 4 the 517-MW and 5 at the Muskogee plant and
the 522-MW Unit 1 and 524-MW Unit 2 at the Sooner plant.
American Electric Power Co Inc (AEP.N) is to clean up the
460-MW Units 3 and 4 at its Northeastern plant.
The units provide enough low cost, baseload power for more
than 2.3 million homes.
AEP's Whiteford could not say whether AEP would install the
scrubbers. He said AEP's next move was to look at the EPA
proposal and prepare for the public meeting on April 13 in
Officials at OG&E were not immediately available.
SENATOR ATTACKS EPA PLAN
The EPA proposal brought immediate criticism from Senator
Jim Inhofe (R-Oklahoma), ranking member of the Senate Committee
on Environment and Public Works.
"State officials...did the right thing...but that was too
much for the Obama EPA, which rejected the Oklahoma-led plan in
favor of their preferred scheme to put Washington bureaucrats
in charge and...make fossil-fuel-based electricity more
expensive for consumers," Inhofe said in a statement.
"Through my leadership position on the Senate Committee on
Environment and Public Works, I will do everything I can to
work with Oklahoma officials to protect consumers from EPA's
attack on affordable electricity," the senator said.
The EPA said it acted because Oklahoma's state
implementation plan (SIP) did not adequately address Clean Air
Act requirements. The Clean Air Act of 1990 requires states to
control emissions that cause air haze.
The EPA said all other sources of air pollution in Oklahoma
except the three coal plants would meet the level of control
needed to address the Clean Air Act requirements.
This was not the first time the EPA denied a state
In December, the EPA told PNM Resources Inc (PNM.N) to
clean up its 1,643-MW San Juan coal plant in New Mexico.
(Reporting by Scott DiSavino; Editing by John Picinich)