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EPA Limits Mercury Emissions, Duke And Progress To Close Plants

Duke and Progress Energy expect to close 29 of their coal-fired power plant units in the Carolinas over the coming years, thanks largely to new restrictions on air pollution. The EPA Wednesday released its first-ever rules limiting the amount of mercury, arsenic and other harmful emissions from coal-fired power plants. Duke and Progress Energy say they've already invested a combined $7 billion reducing pollution in their existing coal-fired plants. "We have to fundamentally rethink the way our electricity is produced and delivered in the country and that's not an inexpensive proposition," says Progress Energy spokesman Mike Hughes. The EPA estimates it will cost the power industry about $10 billion a year to comply with the new air pollution limits, resulting in an electricity rate increase of about 3 percent in the Carolinas by the year 2015. The EPA also estimates the new safeguards will prevent thousands of premature deaths, heart attacks and asthma cases.