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Gaps found in EPA's emissions inspection data; Dynegy to shut more coal plants

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


Gaps found in EPA's emissions inspection data; Dynegy to shut more coal plants

The U.S. EPA's inspector general has discovered "auniverse" of facilities regulated under the Clean Air Act for which data onfull compliance evaluations has not been recorded properly into a publicdatabase. The EPA Office of Inspector General's May 3 report examined 65facilities from EPA regions 6, 8 and 9, a small percentage of the overall 1,046facilities identified to have not received an inspection by either EPA or stateofficials in the past five years.

EPA Administrator Gina McCarthy poked fun at her trademarkBoston accent and addressed the struggle her agency faces when trying toregulate anything, be it carbon emissions from power plants or methaneemissions from the oil and gas sector, during an interview with scienceeducator Bill Nye. The administrator hit back at critics of the EPA's CleanPower Plan and those who she believes have mischaracterized the U.S. Supreme Court's Februarystay of the rule.

On the heels of announcing plans to shut down threecoal-fired plants in southern Illinois, Dynegy Inc. is considering mothballing an additional 500MW and looking to restructure the portfolio of Illinois assets it acquired fromAmeren Corp. in 2013,executives said May 4. Dynegy said May 3 that it will shut down three -firedunits in Illinois over the next year.

Alliant EnergyCorp. is proceeding with the "orderly transition" of itsgenerating fleet to lower-emitting energy sources and cleaner coal-firedoperations, the company's CEO said May 5. "We believe that our carbonemissions will continue to decrease due to the transition of our generatingfleet, the availability of lower natural gas prices and increased renewableenergy," Alliant Chairman, President and CEO Patricia Kampling said on afirst-quarter earnings call.

A new report is casting doubt on the viability of the TexasClean Energy Project, an integrated gasification combined-cycle project, butits majority owner, Summit PowerGroup LLC, said a decision by the U.S. Department of Energy tosuspend funding is the real threat to the proposal.

The SEC is conducting a formal investigation of 'sintegrated gasification combined-cycle generation project in Kemper County,parent company Southern Co.disclosed in Form 10-Q May 5. The investigation concerns the estimated costsand expected in-service date of the controversial plant, formally namedPlant Ratcliffe.

Kansas has halted all state activities to comply withfederal carbon emissions regulations on power plants. Republican Gov. SamBrownback on May 6 signed into law S.B. 318, which terminates state action onthe U.S. EPA's Clean Power Plan until a stay issued by the U.S. Supreme Courtis lifted. The Kansas House voted98-22 on March 17 in favor of the bill. It passed the state Senate 37-2 on Feb.11.

The U.S. EPA has decided not to issue a new rule in responseto a 2015 federal appeals court decisionvacating portions of a rule allowing backup generators to operate absentemissions controls for up to 100 hours annually. The agency had asked the U.S.Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia Circuit to stay the mandate whilethe agency mulled over whether to issue a new regulation in the aftermath ofthe court's May 1, 2015, ruling.

Seven in 10 U.S. voters say reducing greenhouse gasemissions from energy production is a high priority, but less than half ofRepublicans share that view, according to a new poll. The Program for PublicConsultation at the University of Maryland's School of Public Policy conductedthe survey, which was released May 4 by nonpartisan policy group Voice of thePeople. Nearly 4,400 registered adult voters participated in the online poll,held April 16-26.

Amid an ongoing review of the program's rules this year,Regional Greenhouse Gas Initiative officials are considering making some majorchanges to the Northeast carbon cap-and-trade program. While there are severalmarket design issues that will be scrutinized, first and foremost, RGGIofficials should look to tightenthe program's emissions cap and alter, or even do away with, the costcontainment reserve.