The Great Corette Cover-up
There is a giant fiction, a myth, being perpetrated by the Republicans and by PP&L (the big national power generating company) during this campaign season. They are trying persuade voters that the closure of a coal-fired plant in Billings, the Corette Power Plant, is due to new EPA mercury standards. Supposedly, the fiction goes, these standards are just too onerous and forced PP&L to shut down the plant.
It fits nicely into the GOP’s “too many regulations are killing jobs,” but is nonsense. PP&L has announced plans to shut down the plant in 2015 because they are now able to generate power at a fraction of the rate by using natural gas, which is cheaper now than it has been in 20 years and much cheaper than coal. PP&L provides power wholesale to utility companies like Northwestern Energy who then sell it retail to consumers. PP&L benefits financially by generating its power as cheaply as possible.
PP&L has actually stated in its own SEC filings that the coal plant is closing because power can be generated more cheaply with PPL’s natural gas plants.
Nevertheless, Republicans and conservative blogs have seized on the recent claims by PP&L that it is shutting down the Billings Corette Power Plant due to mercury regulations and, of all things, wind energy tax credits.
Never mind that mercury is a known neurotoxin that impairs brain development in fetuses (so much for that ‘pro-life’ stance.) And never mind that Mercury in fish from Montana lakes and streams is now a big problem in Montana–even in areas like Glacier National Park. What’s more important is that PP&L, a corporation that supports mostly Republicans in Congress and in Montana, use this economic situation as a way to make up fake claims about “regulations killing jobs.” That’s corporate America for you.
Indeed, PP&L has contributed $10,000 to Denny Rehberg, and millions to conservative candidates.