- Final regulations for how the federal government will enact its Clean Power Plan are expected to be released in August, but states would benefit from a couple of days advance notice before they are issued, according to the executive director of the Environmental Council of the States, who spoke at the Edison Electric Institute's annual convention this week.
- Reuglatory and power company officials at the conference also indicated that U.S. Environmental Protection Agency has covered its legal bases with the rule, and while court challenges are expected many believe the new regulations will stand up to years of lawsuits.
- The chair of the Colorado Public Utilities commission also advised the EPA to show "deference" to state implementation plans to meet the carbon cuts, so long as they are "good plans" and at least come close to meeting federal targets
The White House should give states a heads up before issuing the final CPP regulations, according to the head of the group representing state environmental agencies, saying a little notice will help states respond "intelligently" to the new rules. And while legal challenges to the plan are almost inevitable, the proposal to cut 30% of emissions by 2030 is expected to shrug off court challenges.
"This is going to move forward," Alexandra Dunn, executive director of the Environmental Council of the States, said at the Edison Electric Institute's annual convention. The CEOs of 5 major utilities — AEP, Exelon, SCE, Dominion and Southern Co. — expressed similar sentiments on the changes of the rule's legal survival, although the AEP and Southern CEOs called the plan a "massive overreach" of the federal government.
"Here's what someone at EPA told me: 'This is one where every legal argument against this rule has been laid out from day one. There are no hidden, gotcha arguments,'" Dunn said. The agency, she added, has 49 lawyers working full time on the finalized version of the regulations leading up to their expected August release date.
The Obama administration's plan has been the focus of the electric sector for some time now. Joshua Epel, chairman of the Colorado Public Utilities Commission, told the EEI meeting "I think we're all tired of discussing the Clean Power Plan, and we just want to see the final rule."
Eppel also stressed that the EPA should show "deference" to state implementation plans when they are submitted to the federal agency. If the states, especially those slated for the steepest emissions cuts, come within a few percent of meeting their interim or final goals, the CPUC head argued that the EPA should approve them.
Those final rules are expected to cause power prices will rise about 4.9%, though the plan is also expected to reduce emissions significantly: 2030 reductions range from 484 to 625 million metric tons, according to the U.S. Energy Information Administration's analysis.