ARKANSAS - Today, Southwestern Electric Power Company (SWEPCO) announced the retirement of the Dolet Hills coal-fired power plant as part of a settlement with Sierra Club in the Arkansas Public Service Commission. Communities in Shreveport and Northeastern Louisiana have long been affected by air pollution from Dolet Hills, while communities in Arkansas have had to foot the bill to keep the expensive and aging coal plant in operation.
Dolet Hills, which is co-owned by Cleco Corporate Holdings LLC and AEP Southwestern Electric Power Company (SWEPCO), is the most expensive coal plant in Louisiana, and emits more Carbon Dioxide, Sulfur Dioxide, and Nitrogen Oxide per unit of electricity than all other power plants in the state. Sierra Club’s analysis showed that permanently retiring Dolet Hills will save its customers more than $60 million a year in their electric bills, that the Dolet Hills power plant consistently costs more to operate than it generates in revenue, and that the plant should be retired as soon as possible. The analysis also showed that replacing Dolet Hills with more affordable, cleaner wind and solar energy generation would create hundreds of sustainable jobs for Louisiana.
Aging coal plants are increasingly obsolete and uneconomic. Despite President Trump promising the resurgence of coal, since he was elected Sierra Club’s Beyond Coal campaign has secured the retirement of 62 coal plants across the United States. In Louisiana, Texas and Arkansas the prices of utility-scale wind and solar power are now less than the price of buying fuel for SWEPCO’s coal plants. SWEPCO can start relying on more solar and wind power, and save customers money on their monthly electric bills at the same time.
Despite clean energy’s growth in Louisiana and neighboring states, SWEPCO energy generation continues to be 83% coal. Pollution from the Dolet Hills coal plant has long affected communities across Louisiana, especially in Mansfield,whose population is 76% African American and in Shreveport whose population is 57% African American. Due to Dolet Hills’ high pollution rates and proximity to minority populations, the plant received a “D” grade from the NAACP's “Coal Blooded” analysis.
The phase-out of SWEPCO’s Dolet Hills coal plant marks Sierra Club’s Beyond Coal Campaign’s 300th coal plant retirement. The Beyond Coal campaign credits the coal plant retirement movement with the annual prevention of 8,001 premature deaths, 12,345 heart attacks, 131,713 asthma attacks, and $3.8 billion in healthcare costs.
In response, Cherelle Blazer, Senior Campaign Representative for Sierra Club’s Beyond Coal campaign in Louisiana and Arkansas, released the following statement:
“The retirement of Dolet Hills is a win for ratepayers, public health and the environment. This is a golden opportunity for investment in Louisiana and Arkansas with more cost-effective clean energy capital projects like building solar and wind capacity. Sierra Club supports a just transition for affected workers and front line communities who have suffered from dirty coal pollution for over 40 years.”
In response, Glen Hooks, Director of the Sierra Club’s Arkansas Chapter, said the following:
“Clean solar and wind energy are now both incredibly affordable and more efficient than ever before. The Arkansas Sierra Club is proud to support a settlement that keeps Arkansas ratepayers from propping up an inefficient out-of-state coal plant. This settlement saves Arkansas ratepayers money, moves us away from dirty coal, and will improve air quality in the Natural State.”
About the Sierra Club
The Sierra Club is America’s largest and most influential grassroots environmental organization, with more than 3.5 million members and supporters. In addition to protecting every person's right to get outdoors and access the healing power of nature, the Sierra Club works to promote clean energy, safeguard the health of our communities, protect wildlife, and preserve our remaining wild places through grassroots activism, public education, lobbying, and legal action. For more information, visit www.sierraclub.org.