Monday, June 2, 2014

Carbon Cap: White House Unveils Ambitious Plan to Cut Power Plant Emissions

Posted By on Mon, Jun 2, 2014 at 9:14 AM

In a landmark decision to draw the line on climate change, the Obama White House today will propose that existing power plants have their carbon emissions cut by 30 percent by the year 2030—one of the strongest environmental actions ever taken by the U.S. government.

There are more than 600 coal-fired power plants in the United States; and while there are no coal-burning power plants in Idaho, Idaho Power does own a portion of three coal-burning plants in Nevada, Oregon and Wyoming. The out-of-state plants each have retrofits scheduled to bring them up to standards or are planned for decommission, but coal remains an integral part of Idaho Power's electricity generation plan for at least the next 20 years.

In September 2013, Boise Weekly chronicled Idaho Power's dependency on coal-powered plants (BW, News, Coal Hearted, Sept. 18, 2013).

On average, coal is the fuel source for producing about one-third of Idaho Power's electricity. Although the company talks about improving efficiency, green-power advocates say that the company could be doing more to move forward with energy production that will take less of a toll on the environment. The pressure is turning the ship around, as one might gather even from Idaho Power's language about efficiency and alternative power source planning, but advocates like ICL simply want that ship to turn faster.

The announcement, expected today from the White House, will work in conjunction with the Section 111-d of the Clean Air Act, which requires states to adopt performance standards for existing sources of pollution.

“Under the draft rule, the EPA would analyze four options that states and utilities would have to meet the new standard, with different approaches to energy efficiency, shifting from coal to natural gas, investing in renewable energy and making power plant upgrades, according to those who spoke on the condition of anonymity because it has not been formally announced. Other compliance methods could include offering discounts to encourage consumers to shift electricity use to off-peak hours,” reports the Washington Post.

“Meeting the EPA targets might not be difficult for states that have cut emissions in the electricity sector or that have been meeting their own renewable energy standards. Since the EPA proposed a baseline year of 2005, 13 states and the District have cut carbon emissions by about 30 percent or more, according to a Sierra Club compilation of Energy Information Administration data.”

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