©2015 E&E Publishing, LLC
Republished with permission
By Rod Kuckro
Despite Ohio’s antipathy toward U.S. EPA’s proposed Clean Power plan, under no circumstances do state regulators want the General Assembly to pass any law that would interfere with eventual compliance.
“We do not think that the plan is legal, and we have mounted a legal challenge,” said Asim Haque, vice chairman of the Public Utilities Commission of Ohio. “This is in fact an energy policy.”
The PUCO, Ohio Environmental Protection Agency, Gov. John Kasich and Attorney General Mike DeWine “are all on the same page,” he said.
“However, we want to be as constructive in shaping the final rule as possible,” he said in an interview yesterday in Washington, D.C.
Crews install a natural gas pipeline in southwest Michigan. The future price of gas is a critical variable in determining the cheapest way for states to meet EPA carbon rules. (Photo by Consumers Energy via Creative Commons)
Shifting natural gas prices are making it a challenge for states to place their bets on the most cost-effective and least risky ways to comply with impending carbon regulations.
Those prices could likely determine whether it makes sense to replace retiring coal generation with natural gas or renewable energy.
To help with that decision process, experts at the University of Michigan and a Lansing-based energy consulting firm have released a model to make that planning easier and more accessible to stakeholders beyond just utilities.
Specifically, the model considers the risks that would apply to ratepayers as states develop new combinations of energy sources and efficiency into their portfolios to meet requirements of the Environmental Protection Agency’s Clean Power Plan.
According to the study’s lead author, the model “changes a lot of the traditional arguments” about the costs utilities and ratepayers face for achieving compliance.
Critics are raising conflict-of-interest questions about a report warning about reliability risks from the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency’s proposed Clean Power Plan.
The November 2014 report from the North American Electric Reliability Corporation (NERC) claims that putting the EPA’s plan into action could cause instability in the nation’s electric grid, increasing the risks for blackouts.
Officials in Ohio and Indiana, along with coal industry groups, have cited the NERC report in voicing opposition to the Clean Power Plan.
Now the Energy and Policy Institute has alleged there were potential conflicts of interest for Energy Ventures Analysis (EVA), a consultant with ties to a coal technology company that worked on the NERC report.
The Walter C. Beckjord power plant in Ohio is one of many that have shut down rather than meet pollution rules. (Photo by Brett Ciccotelli via Creative Commons)
A case currently before the Supreme Court could decide whether coal-fired power plants can escape federal rules for mercury and other hazardous air emissions. The case has important consequences for Ohio and other parts of the Midwest.
On the one hand, utilities and other challengers argue that the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency unreasonably failed to consider costs in determining whether the regulations are appropriate.
On the other hand, the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency says the new rules can save tens of billions of dollars in human health costs each year.
Advocates say those amounts and other costs shifted to society are essentially a subsidy for coal-powered electricity.
A group of Midwestern regulators, environmentalists and utility representatives headed to Washington, D.C. this week to ask that states and utilities who have reduced their carbon emissions receive credit for their efforts under in the Clean Power Plan of the Environmental Protection Agency.
Convened over the past two years by the Great Plains Institute, the Midwestern Power Sector Collaborative calls for the EPA to consider crediting states and utilities for reducing carbon emissions and adding renewable energy prior to the Clean Power Plan’s implementation, said Franz Litz, program consultant.
“Essentially they’re looking for credits for things that are done not only between now and when the rule kicks in in 2020 but also prior to 2012,” he said, referring to the year the EPA will use as a baseline. “The idea is that you won’t get penalized for doing things early, and ideally you’d get some credit.”
(Photo by Michael Leland via Creative Commons)
©2014 E&E Publishing, LLC
Republished with permission
By Jeffrey Tomich
States within the Midcontinent Independent System Operator’s footprint could save billions of dollars complying with U.S. EPA’s proposed carbon rules for existing power plants by banding together and applying strategies beyond the four “building blocks” put forward by the federal agency, according to an analysis by the grid operator.
The analysis was conducted by the Carmel, Indiana-based regional transmission operator to help members prepare comments to submit to EPA. Results were presented to the grid operator’s Planning Advisory Committee on Wednesday. MISO hasn’t decided yet if it will submit formal comments by the deadline, which was extended until Dec. 1, said Brian Rybarik, MISO’s interregional director of external affairs.
(image via C2ES, click to go to original version)
Compared to other regions of the country, the upper Midwest is one of the pacesetters nationwide for reducing energy use.
As a result, according to new calculations, the states clustered around the Great Lakes will be relatively well-positioned to meet the carbon standards now being developed by the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency and state governments.
The Center for Climate and Energy Solutions recently published a map with calculations of how much each state reduced its electricity use in 2012 as a result of efficiency measures, and how that stacks up against the efficiency goal proposed as part of the EPA’s developing new limits on emissions of carbon dioxide.
(Photo by eXtension Farm Energy via Creative Commons)
A policymaking storm is brewing in Michigan as state officials and lawmakers simultaneously devise a plan to comply with proposed federal carbon rules and also revisit the state’s Renewable Portfolio Standard that expires next year.
It appears regulatory officials and lawmakers are attacking the two issues separately — the Department of Environmental Quality recently appointed an official to lead the process of complying with President Obama’s rules; meanwhile, the chairman of the Senate Energy and Technology Committee has a task force studying a new RPS.
Somewhere in the middle will likely be a debate over ramping up renewable energy production and considering other non-renewable power sources to lower emissions. Michigan may have the added benefit of tackling the two issues at the same time, as each process could inform the other.
(Photo by Mrs. Gemstone via Creative Commons)
Cross-posted from Greentech Media with permission
By Martin LaMonica
One would think that last week’s landmark EPA proposal to limit CO2 emissions from power plants would be the main topic of discussion at a utility industry conference. But that wasn’t the case at the Utility of the Future conference in Washington, D.C.
Discussion of the EPA proposal certainly came up, but executives seemed to be more worried about technology disruption and the ability of regulators to encourage change in a smart way. The limited discussion about EPA carbon rules reflected how varied their impacts will be and how pressing other regulations are for utilities.
“We have policies embedded in our regulatory structures and our laws. The problem is that we don’t have a cohesive policy. We don’t have an endgame,” said Anne Pramaggiore, CEO of Chicago-based Commonwealth Edison.
(Photo by Even Regis via Creative Commons)
© 2014 E&E Publishing, LLC
Republished with permission
By Jean Chemnick
As U.S. EPA crafted Monday’s proposal to limit greenhouse gas emissions from existing power plants, the agency was asked by environmentalists to use a model that would incorporate both “systemwide” reductions and those that can be achieved at individual plants, while industry advocates warned that such an approach would be challenged in court.
In the end, the proposal released this week incorporates both “inside the fence line” and “outside the fence line” options, designating both as best systems of emissions reduction (BSER) for today’s power fleet.