AEP prepping for new EPA regulations

AMERICAN ELECTRIC Power is taking stock of its operations and planned upgrades in preparation for proposed water discharge standards from the Environmental Protection Agency.

“It’s really too early to know what specific compliance would be needed at specific plants,” said Melissa McHenry, director of External Communications at AEP.

“We can’t yet determine the final impact of this proposed rule at our plants because it is still a proposal and we won’t know for certain what will be required for compliance until we have a final rule from the EPA,” she stated.

She added that they have few concerns about the current state of their plants.

“We have been anticipating this proposal for some time,” she said. “There are some parts of our plants are already in compliance,” she said, noting that scrubbers and advanced emission controls have already been installed at the Mitchell coal fire power station, along with advanced wastewater treatment.

Scrubbers and advanced wastewater treatment have also been installed at the Cardinal plant.

The proposed rules would not effect a plant set to be retired in 2015.

“AEP’s use of water at our power plants has changed and we’ve installed increasingly complex environmental control systems,” she stated.

“We began installing some of the new water treatment technologies, such as physical/chemical treatment of scrubber waste waters, that are included in this proposal.”

She noted that until the regulations are finalized, AEP does not know what actions it will take.

“There’s a lot of proposals and we will respond to the EPA with our view of what actions to take and what will provide environmental benefit,” she said.

She added that AEP disagrees with some proposals, such as dry bottom ash disposal. According to McHenry, AEP holds that the environmental benefits would not be sufficient to justify the costs.

“It just deals with how to handle the material during transport,” she said.

Added costs would reflect on electric rates and costs for customers.

McHenry noted that through 2020 AEP plans to spend $4-5 billion across their system in 11 states to address emission limitations of mercury, sulfur dioxide and other issues from their coal plants.

“We are not yet able to determine whether the cost of compliance with this proposal will differ significantly from our preliminary estimates,” she said. “We will be reviewing the proposal and plan to submit detailed comments to EPA.”

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