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Local power provider opposes federal emission proposals through website

AEP, which provides power to homes in Athens County, recently published a website opposing aspects of the EPA’s Clean Power Rule.

American Electric Power wants the Environmental Protection Agency to rethink its proposed carbon-reduction policy.

The company, which provides power to homes in Athens County, recently published a website opposing aspects of the EPA’s Clean Power Rule. AEP said the EPA’s timeline for making power providers slash carbon emissions is too short, and could force the closing of plants capable of powering three states.

“This EPA plan could shut down enough plants to power all of the homes in New York, Virginia and Ohio, combined,” a video on the site says. “We can reinforce the grid to create new, cleaner ways to produce electricity, but the system needs more time to adapt.”

The Clean Power Rule would require that power plants reduce carbon emissions by 30 percent compared to 2005 levels.

The plan, created under President Barack Obama’s Climate Action Plan, is a set of guidelines for U.S. states. If enacted, states would need to begin cutting emissions by 2020, and hit the 30 percent mark by 2030.

AEP Ohio and the national AEP — which sponsors the site — are separate entities. But many Athens residents get their power in part from AEP, according to a previous Post report.

“It’s a pretty slick website, but I don’t buy any of it,” Athens City Councilman Jeff Risner, D-2nd Ward, said. “I absolutely don’t agree with them. (The Clean Power Rule) should have been done a long time ago.”

Risner said he’s seen statements like AEP’s several times since the Clean Water Act was passed in the 1970s.

“This is just a typical industrial ‘Lets see if we can delay it, or make it go away,’” Risner said. “The power companies still produce electricity and still make a profit.”

The website says AEP believes “reliable electricity is critical to economic growth and security,” but thinks the EPA’s plan, without a lengthened timeline, would “drive reliance on natural gas beyond current capabilities.”

The site was published last week, and AEP doesn’t have any plans in place to further the advertising campaign, Melissa McHenry, an AEP spokeswoman, said in an email.

“We’ve been talking with EPA, lawmakers and other stakeholders about our concerns with the Clean Power Plan since the proposal was released last June,” McHenry said in an email. “We also provided extensive, constructive comments to EPA to protect our customers and ensure continued reliability of the electric system.”

Roger Wilkens, the head of the Southeast Ohio Public Energy Council, which orchestrated a deal with AEP Energy and other electricity providers last year to provide reduced-cost energy to Athens residents, said he wasn’t aware AEP took this position.

“We deal with their for-profit subsidiary, AEP Energy, which...is quite separate from the parent company,” Wilkens said. “So (the website) doesn’t bear directly on our relationship.”

jh082913@ohio.edu

@JeremyHTweets

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