Pennsylvania bill seeks to regulate behind-the-meter diesel generation

A group of state lawmakers in Pennsylvania has proposed legislation to regulate certain reciprocal internal combustion engines and the measure has drawn the endorsement of the Electric Power Supply Association (EPSA).

EPSA believes the Pennsylvania proposal can help the commonwealth close a “loophole” in U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) policy regarding air pollution from behind-the-meter diesel generation.

House Bill 1699, assigned to the Committee on Environmental Resources and Energy, says that starting in 2016 “nonemergency generators” must not exceed Pennsylvania emissions standards.

In a letter to key lawmakers, EPSA President and CEO John Shelk announced his “strong support.” EPSA has previously protested regulatory policy which, in its view, wrongly gives diesel generation deemed “demand response” a pass from tough clean air regulation.

“EPSA members must comply with strong federal and state environmental rules,” Shelk said in the letter. The same rules should apply to “behind-the-meter generation used in for-profit demand response programs. Under these programs, third party companies aggregate a large number of smaller diesel-fired generators as ‘virtual power plants’ equal in size to conventional power plants,” Shelk writes.

Third-party firms also bid these “virtual” plans into PJM’s annual capacity auction.

EPA’s final rule on National Emissions Standards for Hazardous Air Pollutants for Reciprocal Internal Combustion Engines (NESHAPS RICE) did not adequately address the situation, said EPSA’s Shelk.

“Thus, House Bill 1699 is critically important to fill the gaping regulatory loophole created by the U.S. EPA in this case,” Shelk writes. “The environmental and economic damage occurs each year when the dirty diesel engines displace cleaner forms of power generation in the PJM capacity auction,” Shelk said.

EPSA represents independent power producers and EPSA members are significant players in PJM and Pennsylvania.

About Wayne Barber 4201 Articles
Wayne Barber, Chief Analyst for the GenerationHub, has been covering power generation, energy and natural resources issues at national publications for more than 20 years. Prior to joining PennWell he was editor of Generation Markets Week at SNL Financial for nine years. He has also worked as a business journalist at both McGraw-Hill and Financial Times Energy. Wayne also worked as a newspaper reporter for several years. During his career has visited nuclear reactors and coal mines as well as coal and natural gas power plants. Wayne can be reached at wayneb@pennwell.com.