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Over 1,000 fossil plants could see changes under CO2 rule; EPA pitches regional haze extension

Q2: U.S. Solar and Wind Power by the Numbers

Essential Energy Insights - September 17, 2020

Essential Energy Insights September 2020

Rate case activity slips, COVID-19 proceedings remain at the forefront in August


Over 1,000 fossil plants could see changes under CO2 rule; EPA pitches regional haze extension

Over 1,000 coal- and natural gas-fired power plants weresubject to the Clean Power Plan before the U.S. Supreme Court agreed tostay the rule,rendering it unenforceable for the time being. Many utilities that they will proceedwith preparing for a low carbon future anyway, and that the stay has littlepractical effect on their generation fleet decisions.

The U.S. EPA has proposed amendments to the regional hazeprogram that would allow states more time to consider other federal rules thatcould impact compliance decisions, such as the Clean Power Plan, Mercury andAir Toxics Standards and the National Ambient Air Quality Standards for sulfurdioxide and fine particulate matter. The agency is also proposinga number of changes meant to ease regulatory burden for states and to bettertake into account wildfires and other natural sources of visibility impairmentthat could be skewing data for states.

PPL Corp.is unlikely to spend on compliance with the U.S. EPA's Clean Power Plan at itsKentucky utility operations in the near term after the Supreme Court stayed thefederal carbon-cutting rule in early February. The utility has sought approvalfrom Kentucky regulators to recover $1 billion for upcoming environmentalimprovement projects in the state, largely to comply with EPA's coal ash managementrule that took effect in 2015.

State regulators on April 28 authorized toinstall dry scrubbers on two coal-fired generating units at the power plant in order tomeet the U.S. EPA's regional haze plan requirements. The Oklahoma CorporationCommission found the OGE EnergyCorp. subsidiary's plan reasonable, but cost recovery for theestimated $490 million project will have to come in a future case.

Officials from the Regional Greenhouse Gas Initiative shouldlook to tighten the program's emissions cap and possibly do away with the costcontainment reserve, or CCR, various stakeholders said during a stakeholderreview meeting held April 29 in Boston. The RGGI is made up of Connecticut,Delaware, Maine, Massachusetts, Maryland, New Hampshire, New York, Rhode Islandand Vermont.

The California Air Resources Board held a public workshopApril 28 to discuss the potential linkage of the state's carbon cap-and-trademarket with a similar program proposed for Ontario. In , officials in Ontario proposedlegislation that would introduce a cap-and-trade program in Canada'smost-populous province in 2017. The province said it plans to reduce greenhousegas pollution to 15% below 1990 levels by 2020 and to 37% below 1990 levels by2030.

As an alternative to New York's proposed, multi-tierrenewable and upstate nuclear subsidies, Entergy Corp. has put forward a single, market-based "cleanenergy credit" to compensate all generation for avoided emissions permegawatt-hour instead. Entergy raised the idea of technology-neutralcompensation for emission-free electricity in April 22 comments submitted tothe New York Public Service Commission in response to a cost-analysis report byPSC Staff on Gov. Andrew Cuomo's clean energy standard proposal.

The U.S. EPA has denied five petitions that sought review ofcarbon emissions guidelines for new, modified and reconstructed fossil fuelpower plants, noting that a troubledCanadian power plant using carbon capture and sequestration is operating justfine. The new source rule, published inthe Federal Register in October 2015, requires newly constructed steam powerplants to adhere to standards of performance equivalent to a highly efficient,supercritical pulverized coal-fired boiler using partial carbon capture andsequestration technology.

The NationalRural Electric Cooperative Association announced its participationon the groundbreaking ceremonyof a carbon research facility in Wyoming, called the , according to anApril 27 news release. The project will allow researchers to test the capture,utilization and sequestration of carbon. According to NRECA, it contributed $1million to the project, which is expected to be completed in the summer of 2017.

Southern Co.subsidiary Mississippi Power Co.'scost schedule for its integrated gasification combined-cycle project in KemperCounty includes an additional month until the plant comes online, according toan April 26 filing, and raises the projected cost by $53 million. MississippiPower revised its estimates for the Kemper facility, formally known asPlant Ratcliffe,to include additional schedule costs through Sept. 30.