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Public could have a say in area power plant's future

On Friday, the Nebraska Public Power District announced that it is conducting a "Generation Options Analysis" to study the benefits, costs and challenges of its electricity generating facilities. Potential resources including natural gas, nuclear power and wind will all be examined.

The public will be asked to weigh in on the future of coal-fired power plants such as the Gerald Gentleman Station near Sutherland.

On Friday, the Nebraska Public Power District announced that it is conducting a "Generation Options Analysis" to study the benefits, costs and challenges of its electricity generating facilities.

Potential resources including natural gas, nuclear power and wind will all be examined. The results will be made public, and Mark Becker, NPPD media relations specialist, said feedback will be sought in the first half of 2012.

"We'll look at future generation based on keeping our rates low, but meeting environmental compliance," said Becker.

The analysis will take into account new U.S. Environmental Protection Agency restrictions announced last week. According to a news release from the EPA, The Mercury and Air Toxics Standards are the first national standards designed to protect people from emissions of such things as mercury, arsenic, acid gas, nickel, selenium and cyanide.

Becker said the rules wouldn't be finalized until 60 days after publication in the Federal Register. NPPD would then have three years to comply. Gerald Gentleman is the largest and lowest... more [truncated due to possible copyright]  

The public will be asked to weigh in on the future of coal-fired power plants such as the Gerald Gentleman Station near Sutherland.

On Friday, the Nebraska Public Power District announced that it is conducting a "Generation Options Analysis" to study the benefits, costs and challenges of its electricity generating facilities.

Potential resources including natural gas, nuclear power and wind will all be examined. The results will be made public, and Mark Becker, NPPD media relations specialist, said feedback will be sought in the first half of 2012.

"We'll look at future generation based on keeping our rates low, but meeting environmental compliance," said Becker.

The analysis will take into account new U.S. Environmental Protection Agency restrictions announced last week. According to a news release from the EPA, The Mercury and Air Toxics Standards are the first national standards designed to protect people from emissions of such things as mercury, arsenic, acid gas, nickel, selenium and cyanide.

Becker said the rules wouldn't be finalized until 60 days after publication in the Federal Register. NPPD would then have three years to comply. Gerald Gentleman is the largest and lowest cost generation facility in the state.

Becker said the plant already uses a bag house system to control acid gases and particulate matter emissions included in the new rule, and burns low sulfur coal, which releases less mercury. He said NPPD is checking into various other control measures including an activated carbon injection system.

A $35.5 million low nitrogen oxide burner system being implemented this spring will assist in meeting the cross-state air pollution rule the EPA announced last summer. That regulation was scheduled to go into effect Sunday, but was put on hold by a federal appeals court Friday afternoon.

"We are investing in technologies that will keep our power plants in compliance with new environmental regulations, yet we still believe coal can be one of several fuel sources used to keep rates low and electricity reliable," said Pat Pope, NPPD president.

About half of the utility's electricity is generated using coal - in part because it's inexpensive, dependable and produced close to Nebraska in Wyoming's Powder River Basin. If the new EPA regulations force NPPD's plants to reduce the amount of power they generate from coal-fired plants, uranium and wind might be considered as alternative resources.

The Cooper Nuclear Station near Brownville uses uranium. However, nuclear power comes with more restrictions than coal does, especially after the earthquakes and tsunami in Japan last spring.

Wind isn't always reliable. Becker said it typically generates electricity about 40 percent of the time, compared to facilities like Gerald Gentleman that generates power 90 to 95 percent of the time.

"It definitely has its place in our generation mix, yet it is unrealistic to think wind power can replace all of NPPD's baseload generation for customers," said Pope.

All ideas are on the table - including the possibility of scrapping the Gerald Gentleman Station and rebuilding. Public input will be sought before the board of directors makes any decisions. Becker said hearing dates and locations will be announced after the first of the year.


Source: http://www.nptelegraph.com/...

DEC 31 2011
http://www.windaction.org/posts/32841-public-could-have-a-say-in-area-power-plant-s-future
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