Industry groups, utilities react to proposed EPA power plant emissions rule

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With the announcement of proposed new Environmental Protection Agency carbon dioxide regulations for existing power plants, utility industry groups and power companies are rushing to get the word out how they feel about the United States' first-ever nationwide limits on carbon dioxide emissions.

Here are some of the reactions to the EPA's proposed power plant emissions rule:

Lisa Jacobson, President, Business Council for Sustainable Energy

"The Business Council for Sustainable Energy represents energy efficiency, natural gas and renewable energy businesses and associations. Our industries see the release of EPA's proposed carbon standards for existing power plants as a historic event. Making these standards work will require giving states flexibility to use the wide range of available technologies, from energy-saving upgrades to affordable natural gas and renewables. These technologies have never been cheaper or more widespread. Natural gas production and consumption hit an all time high in 2013, and 94 percent of all new electric power capacity built in the US since 1997 has come from natural gas or renewable energy. America's affordable, efficient and clean energy industries are confident that the US can meet the new regulations affordably and reliably, while creating new jobs."

Tony Earley, Chairman, CEO and President of PG&E Corp.

"We appreciate EPA's open and transparent process, as well as its extensive outreach in developing this proposed rule. We are reviewing the proposed rule and will work closely with the state of California and EPA to ensure that the final rule aligns with California's Global Warming Solutions Act and the progress made to date toward reducing greenhouse gas emissions from California's electricity mix. Ultimately, PG&E wants to ensure the rule provides flexibility to recognize the unique circumstances and emissions profiles of power companies and individual states across the country, so that we and others in our industry can continue providing safe, reliable, affordable and clean energy to our customers."

The Edison Electric Institute (EEI)

“While we are still assessing the overall proposal, EPA appears to have allowed for a range of compliance options to reflect the diversity of approaches that states and electric utilities have undertaken and may undertake to reduce GHG emissions. Flexible compliance is necessary to maintain a diverse portfolio of generating sources. However, there are some concerns about EPA’s broad approach to ‘best system of emissions reductions,’ and we will look at this issue carefully. The 120-day comment period that EPA is allowing for both of these proposed guidelines and standards reflects the complexity and importance of these rulemakings. We will work with our member companies throughout these rulemaking processes to provide EPA with relevant information, data, and comments about the impact these proposals will have on our industry’s ability to provide reliable and affordable electricity to all customers.”

Paul Gaynor, CEO of First Wind

“We applaud the EPA for giving individual states several good options for making crucial pollution reductions. We know from firsthand experience that building more wind and solar power facilities have proven to be the fastest, cleanest and cheapest way to replace dirty power plants and combat climate change.”

The American Public Power Association

"We appreciate that 120 days have been allowed for comments on the rule and will constructively engage with the EPA, in a fact-based manner, to ensure that regulations do not place undue burden on consumers. Public Power believes climate change should be addressed but Congress, not EPA, should determine the best framework outside of the Clean Air Act to do so while ensuring affordable, reliable electricity from all fuel sources, including coal and natural gas. The Clean Air Act is ill-suited to regulate CO2 emissions. If the EPA moves forward with regulations that call for too much change too fast, we will likely see unnecessary coal-plant retirements without long-term plans for viable, cost-effective alternatives; higher electricity prices; and potential shortage of electricity supply."

CPS Energy

"CPS Energy supports plans to reduce greenhouse gas emissions, and has been on an aggressive path to diversify and reduce the carbon intensity of its own generation fleet for several years now, through the increased use of natural gas, wind and solar energy. Officials will spend the next several weeks studying the hundreds of pages that comprise the new greenhouse gas limits proposed today by the Environmental Protection Agency, but thanks to its proactive approach, it appears CPS Energy is on a path towards compliance."

Dan Delurey, Executive Director of the Association for Demand Response & Smart Grid

"The draft regulations released today show extreme flexibility in setting targets, and more importantly, they provide states with substantial flexibility in how they put together plans to meet those targets. We are surprised, however, to see that demand-side efficiency is described in the regulations as only being 'end-use' efficiency. States, utilities, and technology companies know that traditional end-use efficiency is not the only way to reduce usage and thus emissions. With the use of demand response and smart grid technologies and practices, it is possible to manage peak load, and for efficiency to be dynamic and dispatchable on a 24/7 basis. It can thus play a greater role in optimizing our electricity system and reducing emissions. It may even be possible to consider using demand response as a dynamic emissions reduction tool."

Bob Cleaves, President & CEO of Biomass Power Association

"Biomass Power Association commends the Obama Administration for its strong commitment to reducing carbon emissions from existing power plants. This is an exciting time for renewable energy, especially the biomass industry. The National Climate Assessment released by the White House in May noted the potential for bioenergy to displace up to 30% of the Nation's current U.S. petroleum consumption, while improving forest health. As a reliable baseload power source that generates electricity around the clock, biomass is practical and adaptable - an excellent alternative or accompaniment to fossil fuels. Support for biomass is also support for rural economies; many of the jobs generated by biomass facilities are in the heavily forested, sparsely populated areas that need jobs the most."

Tom Kiernan, CEO, American Wind Energy Association

"Reducing carbon pollution through the deployment of wind energy can be done in a manner that keeps electricity affordable and reliable, creates jobs, and supports local economic development as evidenced by the 43 percent reduction in the cost of wind energy over the last four years, the tens of thousands of jobs supported by the wind industry throughout the country, and the 560 factories across 43 states churning out parts for wind turbines. The wind energy industry strongly supports moving forward with the process to develop the first ever rule from the EPA to limit carbon pollution from existing power plants."

Kateri Callahan, President, Alliance to Save Energy

"Energy efficiency is our country's cheapest, cleanest, most abundant and most readily available energy resource. The Alliance to Save Energy will comb the proposal to identify opportunities for states to-individually and, if they so choose, jointly-use energy efficiency as a "first and best" compliance option. Building on and developing new energy efficiency policies and programs not only will save money, but also and importantly will boost state economies. By allowing and encouraging energy efficiency as a compliance mechanism, this rule has the potential to greatly advance the nation's energy productivity and, thus, our country's overall competitiveness while simultaneously reducing emissions and strengthening energy reliability."

According to the Sacramento Municipal Utility District

SMUD has shown that it’s possible to establish a portfolio of zero-GHG energy resources and highly efficient natural gas power plants, along with investments in energy efficiency, to achieve reduced GHG emissions while maintaining reliable and affordable electricity service for its customers,” said SMUD General Manager and CEO Arlen Orchard. “It’s clear that climate change is a pressing environmental threat requiring national action to reduce carbon emissions, and we owe it to future generations to ensure the health of the planet. SMUD urges other California utilities and their industry associations to work with the governor and other state agencies to support the EPA taking strong action that includes, recognizes, and builds on what California has already done to begin reducing carbon emissions, including the implementation of AB32, the Global Warming Solutions Act, the state’s cap and trade carbon trading program, and our investments in renewable energy, energy efficiency, and other carbon-reduction efforts."

Ernest Moniz, Secretary of the Department of Energy

“The EPA’s proposed new rules for existing power plants are a critical step toward addressing climate change. This common-sense approach will reduce carbon emissions while also giving states unprecedented flexibility to meet their obligations within an all-of-the-above set of options, tailored to each state’s needs and opportunities. A flexible approach will keep electricity affordable for American families and businesses, spark homegrown clean energy innovation that creates jobs, and increase energy efficiency to save families money. We must commit to leaving our children and grandchildren a healthy planet. If we don’t act, they could face increasingly severe effects of climate change, such as storm surges driven by warmer water and rising sea levels, more extreme droughts, and massive costs to adapt to a changing world. These new rules for existing power plants help lay the groundwork for a clean energy economy that will pay economic, environmental, and security dividends.”

Trip Van Noppen, President of Earthjustice

“Today, EPA is proposing the most important anti-pollution and public health safeguard in a generation. We are confident that once finalized these new protections will help our nation meet the pollution reduction goals the President has set. We will do everything we can to promote the strongest public health protections possible. Climate change is happening here and now. We cannot wait to provide protection for our families and communities, especially low income communities that are hit hardest by climate disasters. There is no graver challenge facing humanity right now than reducing emissions of greenhouse gasses. And there is no better place to start than the aging power plants currently pumping out 40 percent of the nation's carbon pollution. The substantial reduction in greenhouse gasses achieved by these safeguards will help avert or mitigate the ongoing disaster of climate change and the widespread effects it will have on public health."

Dave McCurdy, President and CEO, American Gas Association

"The American Gas Association believes it is critical that the rule design include a flexible approach for compliance and allow for the efficient and affordable applications of clean natural gas. Natural gas used directly in homes and businesses, and technologies such as combined heat and power, are key parts of a clean and secure energy portfolio for our nation. Natural gas delivers solutions for our economy and our environment and local natural gas utilities bring those benefits home."

Rhone Resch, President & CEO, Solar Energy Industries Association

"For state regulators looking to meet the new EPA standards, solar can be a game-changer. Today, solar is the fastest-growing source of renewable energy in the United States, employing 143,000 Americans and accounting for nearly 30 percent of all new electric generation capacity installed in 2013 — second only to natural gas. All totaled, solar is now generating enough clean, reliable and affordable electricity to effectively power 3 million homes. We're doing our part to help fight climate change, but we can do a lot more in the future — and that's something we will be stressing to state regulators."

The House Sustainable Energy and Environment Coalition

“SEEC welcomes EPA’s first-ever proposal to cut carbon pollution from power plants. Climate change is already altering the world around us. All across our country people are witnessing its impacts, which will only worsen the longer we allow this problem to persist unmitigated. We must work to address carbon pollution, the principal contributor to climate change. With today’s announcement, we are taking an important step in fulfilling our promise of a healthier and brighter tomorrow for our children. We already have limits on toxins like lead, mercury, and arsenic. Carbon pollution should be no different and as of today it no longer is. In the first year alone, these safeguards will help prevent 100,000 asthma attacks and 2,100 heart attacks. It’s a common-sense effort that builds on activities already underway in a number of states as well as other critical initiatives by the Administration to reign in carbon pollution, such as increasing the fuel efficiency of our vehicles and efficiency of our appliances.

Mike Duncan, president and CEO of the American Coalition for Clean Coal Electricity

“If these rules are allowed to go into effect, the administration for all intents and purposes is creating America’s next energy crisis. As we predicted, the administration chose political expediency over practical reality as it unveiled energy standards devoid of commonsense and flexibility.  These guidelines represent a complete disregard for our country’s most vital fuel sources, like American coal, which provides nearly 40 percent of America’s power, reliably and affordably. Sadly, EPA’s proposed regulations put America’s low- and middle-income families most at risk of paying disproportionately more for energy. Those same families have seen their income dwindle by 22 percent over the last decade while their energy bills have increased by 27 percent,” Duncan said. “More so, the rule threatens the energy reliability and economic promise we enjoy today. Only by recognizing the importance of an energy portfolio rich in fuel source diversity will we preserve America’s access to stable and affordable power.”

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