WILKES-BARRE — Two area utilities will be digesting President Barack Obama’s plan to launch the first-ever federal regulations on heat-trapping gases emitted by new and existing power plants.
Spokespersons for PPL and UGI said the president’s plan to “put an end to the limitless dumping of carbon pollution” needs to be evaluated before any specific reaction can be offered.
Teri MacBride, PPL regional affairs director, said PPL is not opposed to regulations that balance environmental benefits with consumer costs, as well as the need to maintain a strong and reliable supply of electricity.
“There are a lot of components involved here,” MacBride said. “It’s important to look at the framework. You have to consider market conditions, the cost to consumers, achievable deadlines and also support investment in new generation and allow a diverse fuel mix.”
Fossil fuels, renewable energy and nuclear energy are all essential, MacBride said. Nuclear energy is a large-scale source of non-carbon generation and is key to meeting greenhouse gas emission objectives, she said.
“PPL believes that coal, used responsibly, should continue to be a part of our national energy mix,” MacBride said. “PPL is a major employer (26,000 worldwide), a corporate citizen of three states (Pennsylvania, Kentucky and Montana) where coal is an important part of the economy.”
“We’ve invested in excess of $700 million in hydroelectric expansion,” she said. “We’ve increased or added 200 megawatts to the generating capacity of PPL’s Susquehanna nuclear plant.”
MacBride said PPL has built and acquired natural gas-fired generation operations in Pennsylvania and Kentucky and the company has retired or sold older and smaller coal-fired power plants such as Martins Creek, Sunbury and Holtwood.
MacBride said PPL continues to develop renewable energy projects and has 60 megawatts of solar, wind and landfill gas generation in Pennsylvania, New Jersey and New England. PPL is the third largest developer of landfill gas-to-energy projects in Pennsylvania, she said
Joe Swope, spokesman for UGI, said the impact of Obama’s proposal will have minimal effects on the utility.
UGI switched over its Hunlock Creek plant from coal to gas several years ago, Swope said. New regulations played a part in the decision to use natural gas because of less emissions, he said.
“Natural gas is cleaner and has fewer emissions,” Swope said. “As emissions’ regulations have become stricter over time, older coal plants had difficulty meeting those standards.”