AEP / Coal

American Electric Power’s dirty trick

Company threatens firings to stop pollution controls

A coal-fired power plant in Thompsons, Texas.

COLUMBUS — “On June 9, American Electric Power, a major utility company that owns plants from Texas to Virginia, announced that it plans to close 21 coal-fired electricity units rather than invest in reducing their toxic air pollution to comply with the forthcoming Environmental Protection Agency reduction requirements. In reality, AEP is threatening to shut down these plants to stoke congressional and public opposition to EPA’s efforts to reduce toxic air pollution. So far, several legislators have risen to the bait, including Sen. Joe Manchin (D-WV) and Rep. Shelly Moore Capito (R-WV). Both have again attacked EPA for attempting to protect children and others from cancer-causing air pollution. Other utilities, however, support EPA’s requirements, which are also job creators.

AEP would prefer to shutter these plants because it claims that the cost of reducing the arsenic, lead, mercury, acid gases, and other toxic pollutants is prohibitive. What AEP did not say is that the cost of cleanup is expensive because these units are very old and dirtier than newer plants—50 years old on average. (see attached spreadsheet) One of the units was built during World War II, and the newest one was completed during the Carter administration. Most of the other units were built in the 1950s.

AEP’s threat to close these plants due to the pending EPA air toxics rules is also somewhat misleading. Last year, it announced a plan to close five units at the Phillip Sporn Plant in New Haven, West Virginia. Source Watch, a nonprofit that publishes “documented information about the corporations, industries, and people trying to sway public opinion,” reported on AEP’s 2010 retirement plans.”

— Daniel J. Weiss, Valeri Vasquez, Center for American Progress

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