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SIERRA CLUB CALLS GAVIN SCRUBBER STRATEGY POWER POLITICS AT ITS WORST

SIERRA CLUB CALLS GAVIN SCRUBBER STRATEGY POWER POLITICS AT ITS WORST
 COLUMBUS, Ohio, April 23 /PRNewswire/ -- Today the Ohio Chapter of the Sierra Club denounced American Electric Power's (AEP) proposal to build a scrubber at the Gavin Power Plant in Cheshire, Ohio.
 "American Electric Power is caving into special interests and calling it environmental protection," said Ned Ford of the Sierra Club. "Ohio consumers and businesses will be forced to pay for scrubbers when much less expensive pollution control alternatives such as fuel switching and energy efficiency technology are available."
 Janine Migden, attorney for the Sierra Club, said: "AEP says that building scrubbers is the cheapest way to reduce the acid rain emissions coming from the Gavin Plant. That's a complete reversal of its statements before the Public Utility Commission of Ohio (PUCO) in May 1991. AEP's data showed that switching to low sulfur coal and implementing conservation programs would enable the utility to meet air quality standards and would cost $225 million less than scrubbers."
 Ford added, "Since last summer, estimates of the value of acid rain allowances has dropped. This means that scrubbers will cost tens of millions of dollars more than previously thought."
 Scrubbers are giant towers that spray chemicals into utility smokestacks to remove significant amounts of SO2. They are expensive to build and very costly to maintain.
 Construction of scrubbers will destroy acres of wetlands. Once in operation, the scrubber is expected to produce two to three tons of sludge for ever one ton of sulfur removed from the emissions. This sludge will be disposed of in a 383-acre landfill, making a mountain of sludge higher than the surrounding hills.
 Scrubbers also increase the release of carbon dioxide, which contributes to global warming. Ford commented, "Not only do scrubbers require a 10-15 percent rate increase according to AEP, but rates will go higher if the federal government passes legislation to limit greenhouse gas emissions."
 Investments in energy efficiency reduce acid rain, greenhouse gases and air toxics at a fraction of the cost of scrubbers. Investments in efficiency can also significantly reduce the need for new power plants. Finally, energy efficiency does not compete with Ohio coal.
 Ford noted that "scrubbing causes more job loss for steel, aluminum and other industries than fuel switching does for Ohio coal." AEP's own study, "Economic Effects of Alternative Clean Air Compliance Strategies," which was entered as expert testimony in the May 1991 case, says "the long-run economic welfare of the region favors the fuel-switch case over the scrubber case. Fuel switching is also favored, in the long run, on the basis of jobs."
 Ford added: "Many people have been told that scrubbing Gavin will keep the Meigs Mine open. They should understand that AEP did not contemplate using coal from the Meigs Mine. In the May 1991 trial, AEP assumed they would use high sulfur coal from West Virginia in the scrubbed plant."
 Fuel switching and energy efficiency are positive economic alternatives to scrubbers. Ford said: "Utilities in New England and the West Coast are saving their customers hundreds of millions of dollars with energy efficiency programs that are run by and make profits for utility companies. These programs reduce air pollution and lower utility bills, and create substantial numbers of new jobs."
 Ford concluded, "AEP runs the risk of pricing some of its critical customers out of business and unnecessarily damaging the air, land and regional economy if it chooses scrubbers."
 The Sierra Club will testify in opposition to the scrubber strategy at the May 4 hearing on the Army Corp wetlands permit. The hearing will be held at 7 p.m. at Cheshire-Kyger Elementary School. Sierra Club encourages AEP's customers, consumers advocates, business organizations and private citizens to join in opposition.
 Sierra Club has consistently promoted a comprehensive approach to acid rain reduction which benefits businesses, consumers, the environment and utilities.
 -0- 4/23/92
 /CONTACT: Ned Ford, 513-241-8616, or Janine Migden, 614-241-0240, both for the Sierra Club/ CO: Sierra Club; American Electric Power; Public Utility Commission
 of Ohio ST: Ohio IN: SU:


DC -- DC040 -- 2208 04/23/92 18:15 EDT
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Date:Apr 23, 1992
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