- Associated Press - Thursday, August 27, 2015

JONESBORO, Ark. (AP) - The head of Jonesboro’s electric utility said the planned phase-out of a coal-fired plant near Pine Bluff will save his utility $50 million.

Entergy Arkansas is proposing to phase out coal at the plant by 2028 in response to the federal Regional Haze Rule intended to improve visibility at national wildlife areas.

City Water & Light General Manager Jake Rice III said allowing the use of coal to remain at the plant would require investing in emissions-reducing scrubbers, which would cost an estimated $1 billion. He said Entergy is studying whether to retrofit it into a natural gas plant, The Jonesboro Sun (http://bit.ly/1i4nh17) reported.

Rice said he doesn’t know how much money it will cost customers in reducing the city’s reliance on coal plants.

“There are just too many unknowns, really, right now to tell with any certainty what the cost increase will be to our customers, but the cost will go up,” he said.

A challenge the utility will face is replacing the electricity lost if the planned phase-out of the coal-fired plant occurs.

“We have time to evaluate our power supply needs and implement our best values going forward,” Rice said.

He said the goal is to provide the most reliable energy source possible at the cheapest practical cost. The utility is looking to expand its portfolio of renewable energy sources by exploring solar and other sources.

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Information from: The Jonesboro Sun, http://www.jonesborosun.com

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