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Article was added on Wednesday, August 27, 2014

THURSDAY, OCTOBER 16 is the last day of the federal Environmental Protection Agency's public comment period on proposed power plant regulations designed to reduce carbon dioxide emissions.

Already about 150,000 South Carolinians have responded to our call to stop Washington, D.C., bureaucrats from raising your power bill. Many filled out postcards, others joined our online petition at If you have not already done so, go there now.

South Carolina must make the largest carbon intensity reduction in the nation-815 pounds of CO2 emitted per megawatt-hour of electricity generated. The EPA says that we must reduce our state's emissions rate of 1,587 pounds of CO2 per megawatt-hour down to 772 pounds of CO2 per megawatt-hour, a 51 percent decrease. But the agency's S.C. emissions target is based on four flawed assumptions about our state's energy supply.

Nuclear power. The EPA encourages states to build nuclear power plants to reduce carbon dioxide emissions but proposed rules do not allow two nuclear generating units currently under construction in S.C. to effectively count toward compliance. These units, planned a decade ago with the goal of reducing the state's carbon footprint, could account for more than half of our reduction target. Following the EPA's logic, S.C. consumers will be penalized for investing billions to reduce carbon-dioxide emissions. The regulations should be amended to recognize the CO2 abatement these plants will provide.

Natural gas. The EPA assumes that new natural gas-fueled power plants will be built as an alternative to coal-fired plants. The pipelines that serve the state are fully subscribed. Our best estimates tell us that siting, permitting, financing and constructing pipelines and natural gas power plants can't happen by the EPA's 2020 initial implementation deadline.

S.C. co-ops are pioneers in developing renewable energy sources, most recently the 27-acre Colleton Solar Farm, our state's largest solar plant. Impressive as it is, the project still demonstrates the limits of solar as a reliable source of electricity: The sun just doesn't always shine when we need it. Effective storage systems must be fully developed for solar and other renewable energy sources to meet our power needs.

Efficiency. S.C. co-ops have been national leaders on whole-house energy efficiency programs. Boosting efficiency lowers electricity demand and carbon dioxide emissions. But even the most aggressive efficiency programs will achieve only half of what the EPA demands.

 Let South Carolina design our own carbon-dioxide reduction strategies. For starters, it is critical that regulations be amended to recognize the CO2 abatement of the two new nuclear plants.

Rest assured that until these emissions rules are finalized June 1, your co-op will do everything in its power to look out for you - and keep power bills affordable.

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