Regulations proposed by the Environmental Protection Agency have not been popular in West Virginia. Only one of its coal-fired power plants is even close to meeting the goals set to reduce carbon emissions by 2030.
Longview Power went online in 2011 as the most energy-efficient plant in the state and one of the most efficient plants in the country.
Still, the proposal announced June 1 is not exactly good news for Longview.
The EPA regulation would cut carbon dioxide emission by 30 percent by 2030.
"This has very broad implications for the energy industry and beyond the energy industry," Longview Power Environmental Manager Joe Douglass said. "It's a really big deal."
Longview Power is already designed for energy efficiency.
"Essentially how much coal you use to produce the power that is going out," Longview Plant Manager Len Evans explains.
The big building on one end of the plant houses the super-critical boiler which allows them to use coal more efficiently. The other side of the complex is made up of all pollution controls.
"The electricity goes out the wires that way. Everything you see on this side of the big building are pollution controls. $500 million worth of air pollution controls," Douglass said.
Even with all of those pollution controls Longview is still not in compliance with the 2030 carbon emission guidelines proposed by the EPA.
"Longview is the most efficient coal plant in the state and we are marginally, very marginally, above the 2020 goal," Douglass said.
Right now, there aren't many options to get them the rest of the way on the EPA's plan.
"The technology for capturing and sequestering CO2 emissions is not demonstrated or commercially available," Douglass said, "so there's a goal but there's not a plan."
The state's heavy reliance on coal-fired plants for power could also prove an obstacle, especially during the cold months when residents need to heat their homes.
Instead of ditching coal and relying on another fuel like natural gas, Evans said the market needs a "mix."
"The transportation of natural gas is limited and so therefore to meet the requirements that were necessary in this very cold winter that we had, coal facilities were really necessary," Evans said.
The EPA rules are still only proposals so nothing will change for Longview for now.
"We're going to continue to do our best to operate efficiently and minimize emissions," Douglass said. "It's really a broader question than 'where does Longview go' it's where does the state go, how to they meet this state goal, I can't say. I don't know."
The EPA is holding four public hearings about the regulations. The nearest to our area is scheduled for July 31 at the Federal Building in downtown Pittsburgh.