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Congressman Ron Barber

Representing the 2nd District of Arizona

U.S. REP. RON BARBER WILL TOUR COCHISE COUNTY POWER PLANT TOMORROW

Dec 13, 2012
Press Release

WASHINGTON – U.S. Rep. Ron Barber will tour the Apache Generating Station tomorrow – one day after the congressman met with federal officials who are requiring the installation of costly emission control devices on the Cochise County plant.

“As our economy slowly recovers, middle-class families still face a number of burdens,” Barber said today. “That's why I want to see for myself the impact these standards will have on rates families have to pay and jobs in Cochise County. I will continue to work with the owner of the generating station and the Environmental Protection Agency to find a solution that works for all involved.”

Barber recently wrote to the administrator of the EPA urging her to reconsider proposed emissions requirements and timelines that could eliminate jobs in Southern Arizona and lead to higher rates for electric customers in rural Cochise County.

In his letter to EPA Administrator Lisa Jackson, Barber said he supports efforts to reduce emissions from the power plant, but contends that an EPA proposal “significantly threatens the future energy production, employees and ratepayers.”

Barber, in his letter, also asked to meet with EPA officials to discuss the emissions requirements. That meeting took place today in Barber’s office on Capitol Hill.

Tomorrow, Barber will tour the plant and meet with officials of the Arizona Electric Power Cooperative to see what work would be required under the EPA proposal. Media is welcome to join the tour and talk with the congressman after.

The EPA has proposed an emission limit that will require the installation of additional, more expensive technology at the Apache Generating Station, located between Benson and Willcox. The EPA says the goal is to reduce nitrogen oxide emissions that cause haze which the agency says is impacting visibility at national parks and wilderness areas in the Southwest.

Barber stressed that he supports that goal, but expressed concern about the cost of the technology. The Arizona Electric Power Cooperative, owner and operator of the plant, said the technology would cost more than $160 million, forcing it to increase rates – possibly by 20 percent – and lay off employees.

The Apache plant supports 260 jobs and serves 150,000 customers in rural southeastern Arizona. One-third of those customers are at or below the Federal Poverty Level.

Media wishing to attend Barber’s tour of the generating station should wear sturdy clothing, a jacket and work boots or sturdy athletic shoes with friction soles and ankle support. Media members should arrive early enough to sign in at the plant and be issued safety equipment before the tour. Media planning to attend should contact Geoff Oldfather at 520-444-3473.

Information on tomorrow’s tour as well as a copy of the congressman’s Nov. 21 letter to the EPA are below.

 

WHAT: U.S. Rep. Ron Barber tours the Apache Generating Station

WHEN: 10 a.m. – 12:30 p.m., Friday, Dec. 14, 2012

WHERE: 3525 U.S. 191, Cochise, Ariz. 85606

Map

 

November 21, 2012

 

The Honorable Lisa Jackson

Administrator

U.S. Environmental Protection Agency

1200 Pennsylvania Ave, NW

Washington, D.C. 20460

 

Dear Administrator Jackson:

I am writing to express my concerns about the impact the EPA’s decision regarding Arizona’s Regional Haze State Implementation Plan (SIP) and emissions limits for nitrogen oxide (NOx) will have on Arizona Electric Power Company’s (AEPCO) Apache Generating Station in Benson and my constituents in Southern Arizona.

While I support efforts by Arizona and EPA to reduce emissions that impair visibility at protected national parks and wilderness areas, EPA’s Federal Implementation Plan (FIP) significantly threatens the future energy production, employees, and ratepayers of the Apache facility.

Apache supports 260 jobs and serves approximately 150,000 customers located throughout rural southeastern Arizona.  The plant is funded by the Rural Utility Service Program created under the Department of Agriculture to provide these vital utility services to rural Americans in underserved areas. One-third of the rural users served by Apache are at or below the Federal Poverty Level.

The estimated cost of implementing EPA’s implementation plan for lowering nitrogen oxide emissions would be devastating to the Apache facility and its customers, especially given the relative small size of the utility company.  With an estimated cost in excess of $160 million in new technology to the Apache facility and a very short timeline for implementation, the company estimates that ratepayers could see an increase of up to 20 percent.  Placing this disproportionate and undue hardship on rural and low-income Arizonans is unacceptable.

AEPCO has proposed a cost-effective plan to the Arizona Department of Environmental Quality (ADEQ) for reducing NOx emissions and its contribution to regional haze by installing upgraded combustion controls. The estimated cost of this technology is $21 million and would result in a significant reduction in emissions. AEPCO’s plan takes into account the unique challenges of this small, rural utility and reflects the true costs of necessary replacement power and power transmission.

Under the FIP, the Apache Station could be forced to both increase rates and eliminate jobs to meet the required emissions limits.  These negative impacts are not in the best interests of my constituents.  I am requesting that EPA reconsider this plan and the short timeline imposed on this facility to install new technology and emission controls.  I believe that every effort should be made to allow the facility to act to improve visibility over a period of time that will ensure that it can remain viable well into the future.

Additionally, I am requesting a meeting to discuss these concerns and how we can best work together to protect the Apache Generating Station and its customers.  We appreciate your prompt consideration of this request and look forward to meeting with you at your earliest availability.

Sincerely,

Ron Barber

Member of Congress

 

NEWS RELEASE
Thursday, Dec. 13, 2012

CONTACT
Mark Kimble
Communications Director
U.S. Rep. Ron Barber
Arizona’s 8th Congressional District
mark.kimble@mail.house.gov
(520) 881-3588 or (520) 904-5876