EEI statement of President Obama’s climate action plan

Responding to President Obama’s sweeping climate change blueprint June 25, EEI President Tom Kuhn said the nation’s shareholder-owned electric companies will want to ensure that any new policies or regulations to curb carbon emissions from existing power plants “contain achievable compliance limits and deadlines, minimize costs to customers, and are consistent with the industry’s ongoing investments to transition to a cleaner generating fleet and enhanced electric grid. It is also critical that fuel diversity and support for clean energy technologies be maintained, not hindered.”

Commenting in the wake of the President’s announcement of a broad plan to use executive powers to address climate change, Kuhn emphasized that the nation’s electric companies continue to support the goals of our nation’s environmental laws and are working to ensure that they are fully met. 

Kuhn also stressed that the electric power industry has long understood the importance of addressing climate change and has been a leader in reducing criteria pollutants and greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions over the last two decades. In 2012, U.S. power sector carbon dioxide emissions were 15 percent below 2005 emission levels and were at their lowest levels since 1996. Emissions of sulfur dioxide and nitrogen oxides have been cut by more than 75 percent since 1990, while electricity use grew by nearly 40 percent during this time. In addition, the Environmental Protection Agency’s new rule on mercury emissions will lead to a 90-percent reduction in emissions below 1990 levels. 

The U.S. electric power industry today is faced with a range of critical environmental policy and regulatory issues that are impacting company strategic planning and decision making. The electric generation fleet also is in the midst of a major transformation to a significantly cleaner fleet as a result of several factors. These include the closing of older coal plants; the confluence of the Mercury and Air Toxics Standards (MATS) and other environmental regulations; companies taking advantage of abundant supplies of low-cost, domestically produced natural gas to generate more electricity; greater efficiency in electricity use; slower economic growth; the building of new nuclear power plants and increasing the capacity of existing ones; and increased deployment of renewable generation.

“We look forward to working with the Administration as it further develops its climate plan and with other key stakeholders, including Congress and the states, which will play a critical role in helping to forge workable regulations,” Kuhn added.

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The Edison Electric Institute (EEI) is the association of U.S. shareholder-owned electric companies. Our members serve 95 percent of the ultimate customers in the shareholder-owned segment of the industry, and represent approximately 70 percent of the U.S. electric power industry. We also have more than 65 International electric companies as Affiliate members, and more than 170 industry suppliers and related organizations as Associate members.