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Agency backs controls on coal power plants

Feb 5, 2013 - The Associated Press

If approved, the measures likely would take years to complete.

CHEYENNE -- Wyoming's consumer watchdog agency has approved environmental controls for the state's biggest coal power plants -- and that could mean higher electricity rates for customers.

The Office of Consumer Advocate has backed a PacifiCorp proposal to install controls on two of its four power units at the Jim Bridger Power Plant.

The upgrades are needed to comply with emissions standards proposed by the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency.

Bryce Freeman, the agency's administrator, said the proposal will raise rates but it's not known by how much.

"If these plants are going to continue to run, they have to make the upgrades," he said. "There's no way around it."

Rocky Mountain Power, a PacifiCorp subsidiary, had proposed new controls for units 3 and 4 of the Bridger plant in August. The two generators can produce about 1,050 megawatts of power.

Rocky Mountain Power serves 136,000 customers in Wyoming.

Dave Eskelsen, a company spokesman, declined to disclose the project's estimated cost. The state Public Service Commission has granted confidential status to documents on the project submitted by the company.

The commission will hold a hearing on the project March 26-28. If approved, the controls likely would take years to complete.

The Jim Bridger Power Plant is located near the PacifiCorp-owned Jim Bridger coal mine, which produces about 6 million tons of coal for the plant each year. Another 3 million tons are imported from other Wyoming coal mines.

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