January 12, 2014 Read More →

Hidden power: Groups seek release of Alabama Power’s 20-year plan

Screen Shot 2014-01-14 at 9.20.45 AMMONTGOMERY — “No matter what the state’s environmentalists do, coal companies will face an uphill climb in the next few years.

The state’s biggest utility, Alabama Power, doesn’t plan to build a new power plant until 2030, spokesman Michael Sznajderman said last week. Some existing coal plants have been converted to use either natural gas or coal, whichever is cheaper. And for years, Sznajderman said, use of gas has been growing….

Over the years, activists — environmentalists and transparency advocates — have hounded the state to make the Integrated Resource Plan (IRP) public. Alabama Power has opposed the idea, and so have some advocates of the state’s coal industry. The fight over this single document, little known to most of the state’s residents, might be the real reason Alabama has spent the last year talking about a “war on coal.”

In states with formal IRP hearings, coal companies would get their turn to talk, along with everyone else, said Binz, the former Colorado PSC president. Cagle, however, claims coal advocates would be at a disadvantage in hearings. Thanks to grants from big environmental groups, he claims, Alabama activists have the money to hire experts that business groups can’t afford.  “Effective regulation should not be determined by which third-party interest group has the deepest pockets,” he wrote in an email to The Star.

David Schlissel, of the Institute for Energy Economics and Financial Analysis, a Massachusetts think tank, said it’s “absurd” to think fuel companies, or the utility itself, would be outgunned by activist groups.

By Tim Lockette, The Anniston Star

Posted in: Alabama Power

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