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EPA NOx trend

Energy Users Could Pay for NOx Rules

EPA NOx trendA major Florida utility is exploring how to pass the cost of EPA nitrogen oxide regulations on to its customers, the Miami Herald reports.

To comply with air quality guidelines issued in 2010, Florida Power & Light – a subsidiary of NextEra Energy – decided to replace all 48 of its peak demand gas turbines by 2016. It proposed that customers bear the $822 million cost through a monthly fee – estimated by the company at under 75 cents a month for customers using 1,000 kWh.

But the Florida Industrial Power Users Group argues that FPL doesn’t need to install new capacity to comply with the federal rules, and says that under a settlement agreement between the two parties, FPL is not allowed to raise its rates until 2017. The state Office of Public Counsel and Southern Alliance for Clean Energy also oppose the plan.

The case is likely to drag on – FPL plans today to ask the Florida Public Service Commission to dismiss the proposal so the company can conduct environmental tests, then ask for the rate increase again later.

In its 2012 sustainability report, NextEra said its generation fleet has grown by 260 percent since 1990, but it has reduced its SO2, NOx and CO2 emissions rate by 94 percent, 93 percent and 36 percent, respectively.

The company said its normalized carbon emissions dropped 2 percent from 2010 to 2011, to 609 pounds per MWh, 51 percent lower than the industry average for that year of 1,244 pounds per MWh.

Takeaway: Customer rates are one tool utilities might use to deal with the cost of EPA regulations, but industrial energy users can push back against rate increases.

Tamar Wilner is Senior Editor at Environmental Leader PRO.

Picture credit: EPA

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