EPA, mercury and electric reliability.
Bruce W. Radford is publisher of Public Utilities Fortnightly.
At this writing, the utility industry now has a much clearer idea of what it must do to comply with EPA regulations under the Clean Air Act, and how those new rules—if and when they should finally take hold—likely will affect electric reliability.
This clarity resulted from the Environmental Protection Agency’s Dec. 21, 2011, release of the Mercury and Air Toxics rule (MATS), which sets national emission standards for hazardous air pollutants from coal- and oil-fired electric utility steam generating plants, and the December 30 ruling by the D.C. Circuit (EME Homer City Generation v. EPA, No. 11-1302), which stayed implementation of the EPA’s finalized cross-state air pollution rule (CSAPR), dealing with SO2 and NOx emissions that can cause ground-level ozone.
In fact, on December 16, five days before it released the final MATS rule, EPA’s Cynthia Giles, assistant administrator for the office of enforcement and compliance assurance, issued a memo spelling out in advance the agency’s intention to grant a one-year extension to the three-year MATS compliance deadline, as permitted under Clean Air Act sec. 112(i)(3)(B), while adding that it intended also to issue “administrative orders” under section 113(a), where appropriate, to add still an additional fifth year to the MATS timeline, if needed to permit installation of controls.