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Employees encouraged to write their senators regarding new bill

by on November 10, 2011

WASHINGTON, D.C. — A bipartisan bill was introduced today in the U.S. Senate that would extend the amount of time utilities will have to comply with new regulations from the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA).

Employees are encouraged to visit and ask their senators to support this legislation. There are two pre-written letters available, or employees may write their own letter and submit it to their senators using the site.

The legislation, called the Fair Compliance Act of 2011, was introduced by Sens. Joe Manchin (D-W.Va.) and Dan Coats (R-Ind.) along with co-sponsors Bob Corker (R-Tenn.) and Ben Nelson (D-Neb.). In addition to being supported by senators on both sides of the aisle, the bill also has gained strong support from labor unions, including the International Brotherhood of Electrical Workers, Boilermakers, and United Mine Workers of America.

The U.S. Capitol Building in Washington, D.C.

“This bill may be our best chance to extend the compliance deadlines in the EPA regulations, which is why it is critical for employees to get involved and take action right away,” said Tony Kavanagh, AEP’s senior vice president of governmental affairs in Washington, D.C.

Kavanagh noted that the Senate could vote on the bill as early as this week.

“By contacting your U.S. senators and asking them to vote for the bill, you will be sending a clear message that AEP believes we can continue improving the environment – but it can and should be done in a more reasonable, cost-efficient way than the current EPA regulations propose. It is important that AEP employees make their voices heard on this issue, encouraging Congress to use common sense and provide an appropriate amount of time for companies like ours to meet these new environmental regulations,” Kavanagh said.

The bill does not change the stringency or reduction levels required by the EPA regulations, but it would allow more time for companies to achieve the targets set in both the Cross-State Air Pollution Rule (CSAPR) and the Hazardous Air Pollutants (HAPs) proposed regulation.

It would extend the compliance deadline for HAPs by two years (Jan. 1, 2017, instead of Jan. 1, 2015) and maintains the EPA’s authority to grant a one-year extension for specific units. For CSAPR, the bill would extend the deadlines by three years, requiring compliance with phase 1 of CSAPR by Jan. 1, 2015, and with phase 2 by Jan. 1, 2017. Currently, there are requirements in the first phase of CSAPR that are set to begin in less than two months – Jan. 1, 2012.

The Fair Compliance Act of 2011 also requires utilities to submit implementation plans outlining how they will meet the regulatory requirements. This information on planned retirements and retrofits then must be reviewed by the North American Electric Reliability Corporation, the regional reliability organizations and the Department of Energy to ensure the reliability of the electric grid.

In June, AEP was one of the first to share its plan for compliance with the EPA regulations, but there is no federal requirement that companies release information on which units they intend to retire or retrofit in the coming years. This makes it difficult to project the impact of the regulations on the grid, Kavanagh said. “This provision of the bill provides a safeguard that does not exist today and is a major improvement that will help ensure there are no unintended risks to reliability.”

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