Could More Clean Energy Raise Your Power Bill?

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By Alabama News Network

Alabama Power is making changes to its power plants because it says it wants to be more environmentally friendly.

 
But some are concerned that these changes are going to make your power bill go up and even put some Alabamians out of work.
 
Alabama Power is reducing the amount of coal it uses to generate power. And that has coal workers upset and pointing fingers at environmental groups. 
 
The Public Service Commission started the day by hearing exactly what Alabama Power plans to do to comply with the latest environmental law. 
 
Part of that involves converting several coal plants to natural gas. 
 
Daryl Dewberry, international vice president for the united mine workers of america, says that coal plants have been shutting down across the state and that means higher power bills for Alabamians. 
 
"We've been competitive with gas and when you take coal out of the equation, gas is going to have a monopoly on it and we know that. We need to keep that balance fuel source going to keep Alabama rates cheap," said Dewberry. 
 
He says environmental groups like Southern Environmental Law Center are trying to push coal out of the state. Keith Johnston with the organization says they're just concerned with exactly how Alabama Power is making it's changes.
 
"We need to know how Alabama Power is coming into compliance on these environmental issues and that's why we're here today and that's why we're asking questions. A diverse energy mix is obviously something we want. We want renewables, energy that's clean. And that's our concern," said Johnston. 
 
Alabama Power currently uses coal for about half of its power. Spokesman Michael Sznajderman says that while they are converting to more natural gas, customers shouldn't see rates skyrocket.
 
"We believe that diversity gives us the flexibility with market prices, if they go up or they go down, we have the flexibility to switch fuels so that it makes economic sense for our customers," said Sznajderman.

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