President Barack Obama’s Clean Power Plan is putting a crimp in Wyoming power companies’ plans as they wait for legal issues to be resolved. It could also reduce coal use from the Powder River Basin in Wyoming by up to 50 percent, and it would affect Montana.
Obama’s plan would require that each state lower its carbon output in the future. For Wyoming, that amounts to a 44 percent reduction by 2030.
Wyoming Public Service Commissioner Al Minier said if the plan is enforced, some plants would be forced to close, and others would have to cut back.
“It was obvious from the very beginning that the proposals they had for regulating our utility industry meant we would be closing some plants early and underutilizing other plants — in fact, the entire fleet of 10 plants would be affected,” Minier said.
Rob Godby, director of the University of Wyoming Center for Energy Economics and Public Policy, said 7,000 jobs could be lost in Wyoming if the current Clean Power Plan is not modified.
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Richard Reavey, vice president of public affairs for Cloud Peak Energy, said he’s confident the courts will change the plan.
Reavey said the state and energy companies need to continue preparing for carbon reduction policies in the future.
Reduced carbon emissions are inevitable, he said.
Godby said renewable energy resources are not expected to fill the economic hole caused by loss of coal production in Wyoming.
He said it may require 250 people to build a wind farm, but it takes only a half-dozen people to run it.