Yesterday, Tuesday, February 9, in a landmark 5-4 decision the United States Supreme Court halted implementation of the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency’s (EPA) so-called “Clean Power Plan” until its legality can be reviewed in federal court. This pause in implementation is referred to as a “stay.”
“I can’t tell you how pleased I was to find out that the Supreme Court has put the brakes on this massive overreach of the EPA’s regulatory authority,” said SECO Energy CEO Jim Duncan. “At SECO we always work to provide affordable and reliable electricity to our members. We needed the Clean Power Plan stay so that Seminole Electric Cooperative, our wholesale power provider, would not have to make premature compliance decisions that would harm the affordability and reliability of our electricity.”
“Seminole Electric Cooperative operates the Seminole Generating Station, a coal-fired power plant located in Palatka, Florida,” said Lisa Johnson, Seminole’s CEO and General Manager. “This power plant is responsible for more than half of the electricity that we generate and provide to members like SECO Energy. It is the most efficient coal-fired facility in the state of Florida, and has been rated by Power Magazine as one of the top coal-fired plants in the world. Seminole has also invested more than 530 million dollars in environmental control technology at the plant. Despite this, the Seminole Generating Station does not meet the emissions rate requirements of the Clean Power Plan.”
Lisa continued, “The Seminole Generating Station has a professionally rated useful life through 2045, and is financed through 2042. It employs more than 300 individuals in rural Putnam County, the poorest county in the state of Florida. The plant is also the largest property tax payer in the county. Had the stay not been granted, Seminole would have been forced to take immediate, costly, and irreversible steps to comply with the rule, including possibly reducing operations at the plant, or even closing it. If the plant were closed, rural Putnam county and the city of Palatka would be devastated. We would also have to pay for the plant through 2042. These costs would be borne by our members like SECO Energy.”
Last fall, SECO Energy, through Seminole Electric Cooperative and the National Rural Electric Cooperative Association, petitioned the U.S. Court of Appeals for the D.C. Circuit to review and ultimately reject the Clean Power Plan. While the stay ruling is welcome news, it is not the end of the story. The underlying legal challenge on the rule itself continues, with a ruling from the D.C. Circuit court expected later this year, or early in 2017.