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Corporation Commission Approves Utility Plant Upgrade

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Joe Wertz / StateImpact Oklahoma
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Oklahoma Gas & Electric's coal-fired Sooner Plant near Red Rock, Okla.

The Oklahoma Corporation Commission on Thursday approved Oklahoma Gas and Electric’s plan to install air scrubbers at its coal-fired power plant in Red Rock. In order to comply with the federal Regional Haze Rule, OG&E needs to reduce emissions at the plant.

The state’s largest utility says it needs the commission’s approval for the $500 million dollar scrubber plan by early May. OG&E’s detractors, including the Sierra Club, say making a half-billion dollar investment in coal flies in the face of industry trends toward renewable forms of energy, like wind power.

But Commissioner Bob Anthony says approving the scrubber plan keeps Oklahoma’s energy portfolio diversified.

"The federal government’s environmental restrictions and rules and requirements say that we’re going to have to put these expensive scrubbers on those coal plants. We cannot afford to totally abandon coal in the state of Oklahoma."

Whether OG&E can recoup the cost of construction from customers will be determined in a future rate case.

Logan Layden is a reporter and managing editor for StateImpact Oklahoma.
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