Generators fight back against EPA’s new regulations
Michael T. Burr
With a flurry of major new environmental regulations, the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) is altering the power generation landscape. But will the new federal rules survive court challenges—to say nothing of next year’s national elections? Fortnightly's Michael T. Burr considers the controversy over new environmental standards. PLUS: Top Utility Lawyers of 2011.
New air quality regulations, including the Cross-State Air Pollution Rule, have prompted substantial investments in emission control upgrades. But a series of additional standards—for mercury, toxins, cooling water and ash residue—are driving delays and shutdowns in the coal-fired power fleet. Investment decisions depend on a clear understanding of where EPA is headed, and how the new regulations will affect generators’ costs—and market prices.
1. ‘Policy’ Guides the Grid; 2. Carbon Not a Nuisance (Yet); 3. Gigabucks for Negawatts; 4. A MOPR, Not a NOPR; 5. Ramp Up the Frequency; 6. Cap-and-Trade Still Lives; 7. Cyber Insecurity; 8. Korridor Killer; 9. The Burden Not Shared; 10. Ozone Can Wait.
(August 2011) Shaw Group completes 500 MW combined cycle plant; Pattern Energy begins building Spring Valley wind farm; AEP, Duke and TVA team up on interstate transmission line; AEP and MidAmerican contract for Texas transmission projects; Alliant contracts Open Systems International for volt-VAR control system; Alstom buys into AWS Ocean Energy; Siemens acquires shares in PV manufacturer Semprius; Lockheed Martin introduces cyber security system; plus contracts and announcements involving Elster, Itron, Suzlon, Solon, Sensus, Westinghouse Electric, Morgan Lewis and others.
So far, states have taken the lead in carbon-control strategies. These state actions, however, could lead to constitutional conflicts—as recent court battles demonstrate. Only the U.S. Congress can regulate interstate trade, so states must step carefully in controlling carbon leakage.
The industry must join a growing chorus in calling for new technology.
Steven Letendre, Ph.D., Paul Denholm, Ph.D., and Peter Lilienthal, Ph.D.
A growing movement to bring plug-in hybrid and all-electric cars to market has emerged, bolstered by the undeniable economic and national-security benefits that result from displacing gasoline with electricity. Also, our editor-at-large talks with Tesla Motors CEO Martin Eberhart.
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