Kokomo Tribune; Kokomo, Indiana

Letters

August 29, 2012

Letters to the editor - Thursday, Aug. 30, 2012

Electric utilities will fight for low costs

Would it surprise you to know that the air in Indiana is cleaner today than any point in the last 40 years? In 2011, every Indiana community met the national air quality standards for the first time in the history of the Clean Air Act.

Meanwhile, the price of electricity has, since 1990, increased at a rate lower than the national consumer price index and lower than everyday goods and services, including gasoline, housing, food and transportation costs. Indiana currently has the 13th lowest retail electric prices in America.

Indiana’s electric utilities have delivered safe, reliable power at some of the nation’s lowest cost levels for many years while implementing pollution control measures. The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency, however, is mandating that we do even more.

Today, we are facing an unprecedented challenge to maintain this successful and crucial balance amid new circumstances and factors beyond the control of the utilities.

The EPA recently finalized new mandates and proposed even more. These factors will lead to substantial increases in the cost of electricity for customers. In fact, the State Utility Forecasting Group at Purdue University recently projected a 34 percent increase over the next eight years – 20 percent due to construction and upgrades previously required by the EPA, and another 14 percent for the new EPA mandates.

While the impact will vary by utility – Vectren, for example, recently invested $410 million in emissions control equipment in anticipation of these new mandates and sees no substantial additional expenditures – these new mandates will significantly increase the cost of generating and delivering electricity for Hoosiers and businesses in the state.

New EPA mandates focus on coal-fired power plants. In Indiana, which has an abundance of low-cost, local coal, 95 percent of electric power is generated by coal-powered plants. More than one-fourth of Indiana’s coal-powered generating capacity was installed before 1970.

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