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One Group Says Shutting Down Coal Plants Could Reduce Electricity Costs

Contrary to what big power companies contend, shutting down power plants that burn coal could actually make electricity cost less in Texas according to an industry watchdog group.


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The Big Brown power plant in Freestone County burns coal mined nearby.


New, federal rules are making states come up with ways to cut pollution and could affect Texas greatly because its power plants and industries generate more greenhouse gases than any other state.

“The cost of inaction on climate change is significantly higher than the cost of action,” said Smitty Smith with the group Public Citizen. At a news conference, Smith said an analysis the group did found that if Texas shutdown three of its biggest coal-burning power plants — plants that emit a lot of pollution — and used more solar and wind power, it would actually reduce the cost to produce electricity by 21 percent, partly because the cost of alternative energy has come down.

The state’s biggest power company, Luminant, said it had not had time to review the group’s report but in the past, the company said that trying to comply with new Federal Clean Air rules will cause electricity prices in Texas to jump by 20 percent overall.

Republican lawmakers have attacked the new rules as extreme and illegal. Senate Majority leader Mitch McConnell last week advised Texas and other states to simply refuse to cooperate with federal regulators on the pollution plan. To which Public Citizen’s Smith says: “We think he’s wrong. Time after time, the Supreme Court has backed up the environmental protection agency.”

Texas has been among states that have sued to stop new EPA rules. The rules affecting power plants are expected to be finalized by the EPA later this year.