JEA Reacts To Proposed EPA Emissions Standards

Jun 4, 2014

A proposal out this week from the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency that would cut greenhouse gas emissions from power plants by 30 percent over the next 15 years has some companies concerned about the effect the regulations may have on the energy sector.

Jacksonville public utility JEA’s Chief Public Affairs Officer Bud Para joined Melissa Ross to discuss the federal proposal, and what JEA plans to do about it.

The proposed rule, called the “Clean Power Plan,” was designed to reduce carbon pollution from power plants. The rule takes a direct shot at coal, which is the highest emitter of the gas, according to the proposal.

Each state will be left to devise their own methods to stay below federal emission limits and create a plan to sustain those rates.

Based on carbon dioxide levels taken in 2005, Florida will have to cut 38 percent of greenhouse gas emissions to reach the national average, Para said.

Para said that coal produces twice the amount of energy that natural gas does, but that its carbon dioxide emissions are much higher.

Half of Florida’s energy is derived from natural gas, but Para sees that number increasing when the state places restrictions on coal.

JEA’s Northside Generating Station has two generators that run entirely on coal to bring power to Jacksonville. JEA will work with the state to prevent rising utility costs, but Para said that relying on natural gas will not be an easy adjustment.

“It will be a real challenge to do but I feel real confident that we could do it. There will be costs involved,” Para said.

He said that placing too great an emphasis on one fuel source could lead to a dependency not unlike the country’s current reliance on energy from oil.

You can follow Melissa Ross on Twitter @MelissainJax and Carter Roush @carterroush.