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Utilities Expect More Environmental Regulations

Some 77 percent of energy and utility professionals expect an increase in environmental regulations during President Obama’s second term, according to a survey by environmental software provider Enviance.

Despite this expectation, many utilities lack environmental reporting systems – some of which are already mandatory – and plans to deal with possible future regulation, the survey showed.

Nearly half of respondents with emissions reporting requirements indicated that they had no actual reporting system in place. Of the group without any reporting system, about one-third reported that they were not currently evaluating any systems to help them meet their reporting requirements.

Furthermore, two-thirds of respondents do not have a plan in place to manage the financial risk from the imposition of a cost on carbon, either through cap and trade or a tax. In last year’s survey, more than three-fifths of respondents said they thought the imposition of a carbon tax would impact their organization, Enviance says.

Earlier this week the White House rejected the idea of proposing a carbon tax.

According to Lawrence Goldenhersh, president and CEO of Enviance, Obama’s reelection and the emphasis on climate in his inauguration speech, along with a resurgent economy, assure that “the drum beat of federal regulatory pressure” on greenhouse gas emitters will continue and will likely intensify.

In light of this momentum, companies without a compliance management system should consider implementing one to avoid an otherwise inevitable escalating spiral of risk and cost, Goldenhersh said.

The survey also found that 72 percent of surveyed utility professionals said they thought California’s Assembly Bill 32 – under which the state initiated its first carbon credit auction in November 2012 – would not have any sort of impact on their organization.

However, belief in the importance of water management is on the up. Two-thirds of respondents said that water management is of equal or greater value to them as managing carbon emissions. This is a big increase from 2012, when more than half of respondents indicated that water management was either of no importance, or less important than carbon emission reporting.

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