- Associated Press - Monday, February 10, 2014

TULSA, Okla. (AP) - The Public Service Company of Oklahoma’s plan to meet clean air rules regarding regional haze by eventually shutting down two coal-fired power plants at its Northeastern Station at Oologah gained federal approval Monday.

The Environmental Protection Agency gave the OK to the plan, which calls for one of the plants to be closed in 2016 and environmental controls installed at the second plant, which would be shut down by Dec. 31, 2026.

Gov. Mary Fallin, her administration and the Oklahoma Department of Environmental Quality helped develop the plan, said Stuart Solomon, president and chief operating officer of PSO.

“Complying with the federal Clean Air Act is a daunting challenge for electric utilities across the country,” Solomon said in a statement. “Many of the proposed rules coming out of Washington are controversial, but PSO still has to comply with federal law and at the same time, make sure that the lights stay on for our customers. We are pleased to have reached a resolution to these challenges in a way that provides certainty to our customers in the critical areas of price and reliability.”

The EPA also withdrew a federal plan for PSO that the company said would have cost about $650 million more than the state plan.

PSO estimates the state plan will cost more than $350 million and raise customer rates by about 11 percent starting in 2016, The Oklahoman reported.

The clean air rules are intended to improve visibility in national parks and wilderness areas.

“The Oklahoma regional haze plan includes using technological controls to limit emissions of sulfur dioxide (SO2) well as nitrogen oxide (NOx),” according to a statement from the EPA.

PSO said it will purchase power from an Oklahoma natural gas-fired power plant to replace power generated by the coal-fired plant that is to close in 2016, and will determine later how to replace power generated by the other plant. The company said it is seeking low-cost, reliable options for power, including wind energy.

Tulsa-based PSO, a unit of American Electric Power, has about 540,000 customers in eastern and southwestern Oklahoma.

Copyright © 2016 The Washington Times, LLC.

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