A special interest-funded analysis found seven EPA regulations would negatively impact the coal-based electricity industry and reduce US employment by 1.5 million jobs over the next four years.
The report, “Economic Implications of Recent and Anticipated EPA Regulations Affecting the Electricity Sector,” was conducted by National Economic Research Associates on behalf of the American Coalition for Clean Coal Electricity, a non-profit partnership of companies involved in producing electricity from coal.
NERA analyzed seven EPA regulations that affect coal-fueled electricity generation, including Mercury and Air Toxics Standards, regional haze, national ambient air quality standards (NAAQS) for ozone, SO2 NAAQS, PL 2.5 NAAQS, 316(b) and coal combustion residuals.
The analysis evaluated three scenarios. The first two make different assumptions about the timing of ozone compliance costs; the third assumes slightly higher natural gas prices than current projections. The analysis did not include the potential effects of EPA’s planned greenhouse gas regulations for existing coal-fired units.
The analysis found compliance costs for the electric sector could total between $198 billion to $220 billion from 2013 to 2034 and average $15 billion to $16.7 billion a year. Peak year compliance costs could total $36 billion to $44 billion.
Coal-fired power capacity shutdowns are projected to total 54,000 MW to 69,000 MW, mostly due to EPA regulations, the NREA report said.
US employment losses will average 544,000 to 887,000 a year from 2013 to 2034, the report said. The employment losses take into account the net effect of jobs that are lost, for example due to higher energy prices, and jobs that are created, such as construction of pollution controls, by these regulations.
The Electric Power Research Institute said earlier this month that current and pending EPA power plant regulations could cost the US economy up to $275 billion between 2010 and 2035 if the regulatory timeline is followed. The EPRI said power companies could save the economy about $100 billion over that same time period if the EPA were to make regulations more flexible.
The analysis, which updated preliminary finding released by EPRI in May, suggests giving power plants some flexibility and more time to meet regulations would achieve the same level of environmental compliance while reducing the financial burden on utilities.