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Clay Electric’s power supplier gets reprieve from court

Seminole Electric's generating station near Palatka.

Seminole Electric’s generating station near Palatka.

BY DAN HILDEBRAN

Monitor Editor

WASHINGTON — The U.S. Supreme Court gave opponents of the EPA’s Clean Power Plan a victory on Feb. 9, blocking the rule’s implementation until a legal challenge to the plan is settled.

Representatives of Seminole Electric, which supplies power to Clay Electric Cooperative and eight other electric co-ops in Florida, have said that if the Clean Power Plan is implemented as is, the regulation could close Seminole’s generating station in Palatka and could increase the cost of power to co-op members by 25 percent.

The rule, designed to reduce the impact of climate change, requires a 34-percent    reduction in power plant carbon emissions by 2020 and a 38-percent reduction ten years later.

Last year, 27 states including Florida, trade groups including the    National    Rural    Electric Cooperative    Association    and utilities     including     Seminole Electric sued   to block the rule.

The U.S. Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia will hear arguments in the case on June 2, however many legal experts expect the Supreme Court will ultimately decide the case, sometime in 2017.

The plaintiffs also asked the court of appeals to delay the rule’s implementation while their case proceeded.

In January, the court of appeals denied the motions.  However, last week, the Supreme Court granted the stay, putting off a September deadline for states to submit plans to the EPA for how they would comply with the new rule.

A Clay Electric official told a co-op trade publication that the utility agreed with the court’s decision.

“We’re very pleased to learn that the Supreme Court has put the brakes on this massive overreach of EPA’s regulatory authority,” Derick Thomas, director of Clay Electric’s Member and Public Relations Department, told Electric Co-op Today.

Thomas added that without the delay, Seminole would have had to make expensive and long-term commitments based on a rule that might later be annulled by the courts.

“We needed the Clean Power Plan stay,” he said, “so that Seminole Electric Cooperative, our wholesale power provider, would not have to make immediate compliance decisions that would harm the affordability and reliability of our electricity.”

Two days after the court granted the stay, EPA Administrator Gina McCarthy told members of a House committee that she was confident the Clean Power Plan would ultimately prevail in court.

“We feel very confident that this is going to be borne out to be a legal, lawful and necessary law,” she said.

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