US EPA's Clean Power Plan achievable, study says

20 February 2015

The US Environmental Protection Agency's (EPA's) proposed Clean Power Plan is achievable without jeopardizing the reliability of the country's power system, a study by the Analysis Group has concluded.

EPA proposed the Clean Power Plan - which would reduce carbon dioxide emissions from power generation by 30% from 2005 levels by 2030 - in June 2014. It claims the plan "will lead to climate and health benefits worth an estimated $55 billion to $93 billion in 2030, including avoiding 2700 to 6600 premature deaths and 140,000 to 150,000 asthma attacks in children."

The Analysis Group's report - entitled Electric System Reliability and EPA's Clean Power Plan: Tools and Practices - addresses the impact of ongoing changes in the energy industry for stakeholders and offers recommendations to ensure reliability.

The group - which provides economic, financial and business strategy consulting - said its report demonstrates that "the industry, its reliability regulators, and the states have a wide variety of existing and modified tools at their disposal to help as they develop, formalize, and implement their respective State Plans." In particular, it notes, "These two responsibilities - assuring electric system reliability while taking the actions required under law to reduce CO2 emissions from existing power plants - are compatible, and need not be in tension with each other as long as parties act in timely ways."

The report says, "In the end, because there are such fundamental shifts already underway in the electric industry, inaction is the real threat to good reliability planning." It added, "There are continuously evolving ways to address electric reliability that build off of strong standard operating procedures in the industry."

The Analysis Group noted that, in evaluating potential concerns related to the plan, "a recent survey of more than 400 utility executives nationwide found that more than 60% felt optimistic about the Clean Power Plan and felt that EPA should either hold to its current emissions reductions targets or make them more aggressive."

Testifying before the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission (FERC) at a technical conference on 19 February to discuss the plan, Exelon's senior vice president for regulatory affairs and wholesale market policy, Kathleen BarrĂ³n, said that well-designed carbon reduction rules can be a driving force to modernize the USA's ageing electric system, maximize the use of clean energy and support economic growth.

Exelon - America's largest generator of nuclear power - said it "supports the call of a number of organizations ... for EPA to give states a way to comply with the Clean Power Plan by imposing a cost on carbon emissions." The so-called Reliability Dispatch proposal, it said, "would treat all low-carbon power equally, increasing the competitiveness of existing sources, including nuclear and hydropower."

It said, "These resources are essential to FERC's mandate to ensure consumers have access to reliable power 24/7 and in all weather conditions, while meeting EPA's carbon-reduction obligation."

Researched and written
by World Nuclear News