EPS backs off of $200 million demand

The EPA has announced it will review a plan which could save Southern Arizona electric ratepayers about $200 million.

The EPS originally told The Arizona Electric Power Cooperative it would have to make upgrades to its Apache Generating Station in Cochise County to reduce haze.

Those changes would have cost an estimated $192 million, something the cooperative says it could not afford.

It serves nearly 150,000 customers in Southern Arizona, many of them rural poor.

Installing the equipment and making the upgrades could have resulted in a rate increase as high as 30%.

For the company, it could have been worse.

"It could have forced bankruptcy," CEO Patrick Ledger told News 13.

But now, the EPA has dropped its demand for the time being.

It will review a plan submitted by AEPCO to determine if it can achieve the same results for less money.

It's estimated the AEPCO alternative would cost about $30 million.

The announcement was made in the office of District 2 Congressman Ron Barber.

"This is a huge step forward," he said. "I don't think they'd be opening it up again quite frankly if they didn't think there was a strong possibility it would succeed."

AEFCO says a decision should come by the end of the year.