Co-ops find the EPA carbon rule flawed

Electric cooperatives say the Environmental Protection Agency’s proposed carbon reduction standard deviates from the Obama administration’s “all of the above” energy pledge by eliminating coal as a fuel for new plants.

At separate public hearings May 24 in Washington, D.C., and Chicago, co-op officials told the agency that its rule takes coal off the table as a future generation source, shows no benefits, and threatens to stymie research into carbon capture and storage technology.

“Losing the option to generate power from coal, which has historically stable costs compared to oil and gas, is a risk we should not be willing to take,” Craig Chrispell, an environmental specialist at Hoosier Energy, Bloomington, Ind., said at the Chicago hearing.

The rule pushes utilities toward natural gas generation, even though parts of the country lack the necessary transmission or infrastructure to handle it.

The rule, proposed March 27 under the Clean Air Act, would set the first national limits on carbon emissions from future fossil fuel-based plants. They would be subject to a cap of 1,000 pounds of carbon dioxide per megawatt-hour, about the level of a new combined-cycle natural gas plant.

While the EPA has suggested employing carbon capture and storage could help new plants reduce emissions, the agency’s rule could set back efforts to develop an affordable, commercially viable technology.

NRECA and several G&Ts have been working on the technology, but those investments are expensive and will trickle off if utilities have to devote their resources to meeting immediate new carbon caps.

Source: Steven Johnson, Electric Co-op Today