A proposed federal clean air plan for Oklahoma will have a major impact on the coal units at PSO's Northeastern Station in Oologah and on PSO ratepayers.
The Environmental Protection Agency plan would require the two units here and four OG&E units in north central Oklahoma and near Muskogee to install pollution control devices called scrubbers or else switch from coal to natural gas within three years.
EPA said it was proposing a federal clean air plan because Oklahoma's state implementation plan (SIP) did not adequately control sulfur dioxide (SO2) emissions at the six power plants.
The SIP was developed through a lengthy series of studies and tests involving the Oklahoma Department of Environmental Quality and the two utilities.
PSO officials said Monday that based on very preliminary figures, the federal rejection of the state plan would add $700 million to anticipated pollution control retrofitting costs at the two Oologah units, with the potential impact of a 10 to 12 percent rate increase.
The utility said it was "disappointed" in federal rejection of a plan they believe meet the same goals as the federal plan far more economically and said the deadline appears "impossible" to meet.
Senator James Inhofe vowed to fight "EPA's attack on affordable electricity" and Oklahoma Attorney General Scott Pruitt threatened to sue EPA, saying that EPA's action "usurps the state's authority to dictate our own energy and environmental policies."
"We don't really know how they came up with their numbers," said Bud Ground, PSO manager of state governmental and environmental affairs. "We need to know why they think they have a better plan."
Ground said more data should be available next week, when the proposed plan is published in the Federal Register and a 60-day comment period begins. Various underlying documents will be released once the notice is published.
The proposed plan would reduce SO2 emissions from the plants by about 95 percent, EPA said. That would cut 36 percent of the state's SO2 emissions, or 61,000 tons.
EPA said in a press release that SO2 emissions harm human health, can trigger asthma attacks, and cause haze in wilderness areas.
But the actual 122-page EPA proposal released Monday afternoon focused almost exclusively on the haze issue involving two federal wilderness areas, the Wichita Mountains in Oklahoma and another called Upper Buffalo in Northwest Arkansas.