The Dirty Secret of Obama’s Carbon Plan

Article posted on June 16th, 2015 by WhatAmIMissingHere

PGE powerlines on Eastbound Interstate 80 near Vacaville, California.By Warner Baxter

Americans don’t give much thought to whether their electricity will be there when they need it. You flip a switch, the lights go on. Your phone charges up. The medical equipment in the emergency room does its job. Yet electric reliability, long a bedrock of this country’s prosperity and high standard of living, does not come as easily as its steady presence might suggest.

The Environmental Protection Agency’s Clean Power Plan, a proposed regulation limiting carbon emissions from existing coal-fired plants, threatens to jeopardize the reliability that Americans and businesses have come to depend upon. The EPA proposal calls for states to cut emissions by 30% from 2005 levels by 2030. It also imposes aggressive interim targets starting in 2020 that will test states’ ability to meet these standards without disrupting service. For example, 39 states must achieve more than 50% of their final target by 2020.

The EPA’s proposal is causing concern among those who provide electricity for a living. The Federal Energy Regulatory Commission held an event in St. Louis on March 31, the last in a series of conferences on the implications of the plan. The North American Electric Reliability Corp., a nonprofit oversight group, has said the EPA plan could constitute “a significant reliability challenge, given the constrained time period for implementation.”

These concerns are driven in large part by the planned retirement, mostly thanks to the EPA’s carbon plan, of about one-third of America’s coal-fired power plants by 2020. This represents enough generating capacity to supply the residential electricity of about 57 million Americans. That’s a lot of power being taken off the grid in a very short period.

Neither fallback measure is a substitute for addressing the EPA’s interim targets. While the EPA’s desire to reduce carbon emissions is understandable, doing so should not jeopardize reliability or unnecessarily threaten the affordability of the national electricity supply. There are better ways to achieve much the same end, and the agency should pursue a more reasonable course on carbon policy.   (my emphasis)

READ all of Warner Baxter’s comments from the Wall Street Journal here.

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