Jun 042014

By Linda Kor

President Obama announced this week that he intends to put further restrictions on coal powered plants that provide electricity to millions by mandating a 30 percent cut in carbon emissions by 2030.

Although the president cited the health and well being of future generations as the objective, the decision to move forward with the regulation could cost thousands of jobs in coal mining industries and coal operated power plants such as the Cholla Power Plant in Joseph City. The plant, along with others throughout the country, is already battling costly emissions restrictions being imposed by the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA). In addition, it’s speculated that such restrictions could drive up the monthly electric bills of residents and businesses.

In the past 10 years, Arizona Public Service Co. (APS), which operates the Cholla plant, has spent more than $350 million to upgrade the power plant to meet the stricter environmental regulations imposed by the EPA.

The plant operates four units, three of which were completely renovated to meet new emission restrictions. Final work on unit two was put on hold because the regulations by the EPA had not yet been finalized.

Two months ago Damon Gross of APS spoke regarding the future of the Cholla Power Plant. He explained that despite investing hundreds of millions of dollars in pollution control equipment to meet new regulations, additional rules could affect Cholla’s future and no decision has been made regarding the future of the plant.

The Cholla plant employs approximately 264 people, has an annual payroll of nearly $29 million, and generates about $15 million in federal, state and local taxes each year.