The Patriot-News - Specter Promotes Energy Bill at Lebanon Plant
By: Barbara Miller
LEBANON l AES Ironwood's natural gas-fired generating plant in South Lebanon Twp. was touted by Sen. Arlen Specter, R.-Pa., as a model for clean energy production, which is the goal of the energy bill he is sponsoring.
In an hour-long visit Monday between meetings with fellow Republicans in Lancaster and Lawn, Specter said the AES plant generates electricity in a clean way, as opposed to many coal-burning plants, which are polluting the environment.
"We have to change that," Specter said. "I am very much concerned about the problem of global warming."
Specter said his bill, which he co-sponsored with Sen. Jeff Bingaman, D-New Mexico, would help reduce greenhouse gas emissions.
The bill, dubbed "The Low Carbon Economy Act of 2007," would put a cap on greenhouse gas emissions. Those falling under the limit would trade permits, while those who exceed the limit would pay a penalty.
Its target would be to reduce U.S. greenhouse gas emissions to 2006 levels by 2020 and to 1990 levels by 2030.
Peter Bajc, AES plant engineer, termed Specter's bill "one of the fairest bills of all, in my opinion," because of the "cap and trade" provisions, along with incentives for research and development to advance pollution-reducing technology.
At the beginning of the program, a majority of tradable emission allowances would be given to the private sector for free, which would be reduced each year after the first five years of the program. To limit economic uncertainty and price volatility, firms would be allowed to make a payment at a fixed price in lieu of submitting allowances.
Bajc said he is not sure how the law would specifically affect AES, which has 121 generation plans worldwide, including 14 states in the U.S. But Bajc said AES likes the fact that the bill includes a "cap and trade" structure similar to that of the acid rain program.
Specter said he believes it is "generally accepted" that global warming exists, despite some skeptics who continue to question it.
However, he believes "we have to deal with it in a way that we don't lose our competitive edge" with foreign competition.
AES Corp. provides 40,000 megawatts of electricity through plants powered by coal, gas, petroleum coke, diesel and oil. About 20 percent of its portfolio comes from renewable energy sources of hydroelectric, biomass and wind.
Its other facility in Pennsylvania is a gas-powered plant in Beaver Valley.
The AES Ironwood plant, which went online in 2001, operates about 33 percent of the time, Bajc said, with production relying on factors such as natural gas prices and demand. It has been running daily since April, Bajc said, And 2007 has been the plant's busiest year to date, said Jeff Myers, safety and environmental manager.
The plant, which employs about 30 people, produces 710 megawatts, which Bajc said would supply enough power for 700,000 homes. The power is brokered through Williams Energy to customers in Pennsylvania, New Jersey, and Maryland.
The bill, introduced July 11, was referred to the Senate Committee on Environment and Public Works.