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EPA Enacts Clean Power Plan, But Delays the Start Date

CPPThe Environmental Protection Agency issued its final rule for carbon emissions from the electric power sector known as the Clean Power Plan, but the EPA delayed the start of compliance by two years, until 2022.

Under the Clean Power Plan, states must reduce the greenhouse gas emissions of power plants 32 percent by 2030, compared to 2005 levels. The 32 percent is more ambitious than the 30 percent reduction initially proposed when the plan was introduced in June 2014.

However, the Advanced Energy Economy (AEE) is upset that compliance of the plan was pushed out two years. AEE said in a statement that it was “disappointed that there is no credit for action taken between now and 2020, and that not all energy efficiency is eligible for credit between 2020 and 2022. These are missed opportunities in the short run.”

Another disappointment for AEE was that energy efficiency was removed from “the best system of emission reduction” methods used to set state targets. The Clean Power Plan originally released in 2014 set state-by-state targets for emission reductions, but allows states to develop their own compliance plans based on what EPA determined to be the “best system of emission reduction” from a set of four “building blocks.” But the final plan does not include the energy efficiency building block.

However, Steven Nadel, executive director of the American Council for an Energy-Efficient Economy (ACEEE), said, “EPA and the President have made it clear that investing in energy efficiency will be a major opportunity for states looking for ways to comply with the Clean Power Plan rule. The inclusion of energy efficiency in compliance plans is much more important than whether energy efficiency is used in EPA calculations to develop individual state targets.”

The other three building blocks initially proposed remain in the plan: (i heat rate improvements at coal-fired facilities; ii) increased use of natural gas; (iii) the adoption of carbon-free energy resources.

According to the Clean Power Plan fact sheet, states must develop and implement plans that ensure the power plants in their state – either individually, together, or in combination with other measures meet specific CO2 performance rates between 2022 and 2029, and the final CO2 emission performance rates for their state by 2030. States may choose between two plan types to meet their goals:

  1. Emission standards plan– includes source-specific requirements ensuring all affected power plants within the state meet their required emission performance rates or state-specific rate-based or mass-based goal.
  2. State measures plan– includes a mixture of measures implemented by the state, such as renewable energy standards and programs to improve energy efficiency that are not included as federally enforceable components of the plan. The plan may also include federally enforceable source-specific requirements. The state measures, alone or in conjunction with federally enforceable requirements, must result in affected power plants meeting the state’s mass-based goal.

Photo via Shutterstock.

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