- “Doomsday” predictions that the Environmental Protection Agency’s new emissions regulations would drive power prices up, bring the grid down, and compromise energy and utility sector jobs don't acknowledge the power industry’s ability to innovate and adapt, according to EPA senior administrator Joseph Goffman.
- States can meet much of the required emissions reductions without substantial extra cost simply by implementing more energy efficiency and using more existing renewable generation, Goffman told the Midcontinent Independent System Operator's (MISO) annual stakeholder meeting.
- In another of the public appearances by EPA and other administration officials across the country in support of the proposed regulations, former Colorado PUC Chair Ron Binz said Colorado has implemented its power plant emissions reduction policies with little electric rate impact.
Colorado has a 30% renewables by 2020 mandate, an energy efficiency standard requiring a 5% improvement by 2018, and a Clean Air-Clean Jobs Act aimed at closing 2 gigawatts of coal generation by 2017, but its electricity rates have only increased about 2% while jobs have been created and emissions have dropped.
Across MISO’s 15-state territory, where coal has long been king but wind is moving in, there is deep concern about rates, reliability, and the future of the nuclear industry among utilities, regulators, and political leaders. Nuclear advocates argue their source’s emissions-free, high capacity factor, base load service is not properly valued by energy markets and claim plants now being shuttered will be missed when natural gas prices rise above $4 per MMBtu.
The EPA proposal recognizes that 6% of the U.S. nuclear generating capacity is at risk, including the 1,035 megawatt Clinton Power Station run by Exelon Corp., the biggest U.S. nuclear facility operator. Goffman said that even without the EPA proposal, utilities, regulators, and grid operators face difficult decisions about aging coal and nuclear plants.