The Public Service Commission and the state Department of Environmental Quality are disputing a federal model that shows Louisiana’s power plants are contributing to Houston’s ozone problems.
The PSC and DEQ asked the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency Wednesday to reconsider its interstate emissions rule. State officials said they are concerned about possible power shortages and higher utility bills.
Left unchanged, the number of ozone season emissions allowed by the state’s power plants would drop. PSC officials said the rule could lead to higher costs for rate-payers or voltage reductions.
The EPA wants to allow 13,482 tons, down from the 21,220 tons of emissions that Louisiana previously was allowed during ozone season. During the 2010 ozone season, Louisiana power plants had 23,174 tons in emissions.
PSC Chairman Jimmy Field, of Baton Rouge, said in a prepared statement Wednesday that the EPA is ignoring how electricity is generated and transmitted.
“Cleaner air can be achieved without imposing crushing rate shocks on Louisiana consumers and businesses during these times of economic uncertainty,” Field said.
PSC Commissioner Eric Skrmetta, of Metairie, compared the rule change to a shell game.
“The failure of implementing federal cap and trade to raise taxes on one front has pushed the fed to more radical action of attempting to raise taxes through utility bills,” Skrmetta said in a prepared statement.
DEQ Secretary Peggy Hatch said the EPA denied state officials’ request to look at the modeling before the rule was promulgated.
“This leaves us with the very real possibility that there will be a shortage of electricity for the state next summer. This is unacceptable for the citizens of Louisiana,” Hatch said.