A unique force of 25 environmental and energy/utility companies have joined together and filed comments on the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission (FERC) Notice of Proposed Rulemaking on open-access electric transmission (Mega-NOPR), and the subsequent draft environmental impact statement (EIS), asking the FERC to mitigate the air-pollution impact of plans to promote wholesale electric competition and open access to utility transmission lines.
The parties urge the FERC to link its open-access policy with an environmental strategy that reduces air pollution at the generation source instead of requiring offsetting reductions in downwind nonattainment areas. They argue that unless environmental mitigation is integrated into all FERC rulemakings facilitating electric competition, the FERC's action will significantly diminish air quality and environmental gains under the Clean Air Act Amendments of 1990.
According to Lawrence R. Codey, president and chief executive officer of Public Service Electric & Gas Co., the group believes the FERC has understated the consequences of its actions, and the Mega-NOPR could expose the Northeast to hundreds of thousands of tons of additional nitrogen oxide (NOx) emissions from Midwestern and Southeastern power plants. "The additional pollution will occur because FERC's action will shift utilization of electricity production toward lower-cost, coal-fired plants, most of which are older plants subject to no or minimal pollution control requirements for NOx," Codey said.
The joint comments observe that mitigation at the source is much cheaper than offsetting pollution increases in downwind nonattainment areas. They claim that the FERC's draft EIS failed to develop and consider mitigation alternatives that would assure no increase in pollution from open access.
Parties to the filing include the Natural Resources Defense Council, Atlantic Electric Co., United Illuminating Co., Florida Power & Light Co., Central Maine Power Co., and Chevron USA Production Co.
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