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Clean Air by 2015: The Billion-Dollar Compliance Race

Which utilities and states will be most affected by the new rules?

Fortnightly Magazine - July 2005
Figure 2 - 2004 U.S. Fossil Electric Generation & SO2 Emissions by Plant Age

by industry experts at be-tween $50 billion and $60 billion during the next 15 years. Several heavily affected companies are adding scrubbers and NO X controls or have announced their intentions to invest heavily in emissions technologies. American Electric Power is expected to spend $5 billion retrofitting its fossil plant fleet during the next 15 years. The Tennessee Valley Authority recently announced plans to invest an additional $4 billion to $5 billion on to the nearly $4 billion invested in emissions controls since the 1970s. Recent decisions have been made by Southern Co., Cinergy, Duke Energy, and Progress Energy to invest in emissions controls as well.

Additionally, according to the EPA, to date there have been nine settlements addressing New Source Review violations, with a combined effect of reducing nearly a million tons of emissions through the installation of $5.5 billion worth of pollution controls.

At the same time as investments are being made for emissions controls, companies are investing heavily in renewable energy-for example, wind development is at an all time high. Driven by the hoped for extension of the federal production tax credit (PTC), wind capacity is expected to more than quadruple during the next 5 years. In addition, according to Global Energy's NewEntrant project tracking system, more than 37 GW of new coal projects are planned-more than 15 GW are clean-burning coal gasification and fluidized bed technologies. Also adding to the myriad of complex compliance decisions, the prices of SO 2 and NO X allowances have increased dramatically since the EPA's CAIR rules were put into effect this past March. In May, average trades for SO 2 and NO X allowances were $840 and $3,300, respectively. SO 2 allowance prices were running four times higher.

As CAIR and state renewable energy standards converge, one thing is certain: "Clear Skies" will become a reality. Global Energy projects more than $100 billion will be invested in a combination of emission controls and renewable energy projects nationwide during the next 15 years, not including additional investments in new clean-coal and long-term nuclear power projects.