The findings are particularly relevant since the EPA’s proposed Clean Power Plan depends on individual states effectively cutting their power plants’ carbon dioxide emissions. The plan will require states to cut CO2 emissions from power plants by 30 percent from their 2005 levels by 2030.
According to Don Grant of the University of Colorado, researchers had previously found it difficult to determine which state policies reduced power plants’ CO2 emissions because plant-specific data were largely unavailable. That changed when the EPA began requiring plants to submit CO2 pollution information as part of its Greenhouse Gas Reporting Program.
The study used 2005 and 2010 data to examine the impacts of strategies that are specifically climate-focused such as carbon emission caps, greenhouse gas reduction goals, climate action plans, and greenhouse gas registry/reporting systems.
Researchers also examined indirect policies with climate implications such as efficiency targets, renewable portfolio standards that require utilities to deliver a certain amount of electricity from renewable or alternative energy sources, public benefit funds that provide financial assistance for energy efficiency and renewable energy, and electric decoupling that eases the pressure on utilities to sell as much energy as possible by eliminating the relationship between revenues and sales volume.
Of the strategies reviewed, the study found emission caps, greenhouse gas targets, efficiency targets, public benefit funds and electric decoupling to be the most effective policies for reducing power plants’ carbon emissions.
Last month, one West Virginia coal company told its 1,100 workers to prepare for layoffs in part because of the EPA regulations.
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