The CEO of one of the U.S.' largest energy producers made a rare public appearance Monday before the State Corporation Commission in opposition to a proposed billion-dollar coal-fired power plant.
OG&E Electric Services announced earlier this year they signed an agreement with Red Rock Power Partners to build the plant pending regulatory approval. Others signing the agreement included Public Service Company of Oklahoma and the Oklahoma Municipal Power Authority.
Aubrey McClendon, who heads Chesapeake Energy of Oklahoma City, told the commission that the plan to use coal to fuel the plant would cost more in the long run than would natural gas, the company's main energy product.
He said the commission should plan ahead for a carbon tax he expects will be coming in the future as a Democrat-run government will use in an attempt to combat global warming. McClendon said natural gas would incur such a tax, but that coal would probably be taxed higher.
"Natural gas has less carbon in it than coal does," McClendon told reporters. "I would expect either a cap and trade program or a carbon tax program in place in the next five years, very likely within the next two years if there is a Democrat president in 2009."
Officials with Oklahoma Gas and Electric, who say the plant will be needed in the coming years to meet Oklahoma's growing energy needs, said coal would be less volatile in price and that Oklahoma should not tie itself to just one energy source.
"You don't want to put all your eggs in one basket," said OG&E spokesman Paul Renfrow.
The corporation commission will continue its hearing into the new plant through Tuesday, officials said. "?Ben Fenwick