Association leaders urge more EPA CO2 credit for nuclear

The leaders of the American Public Power Association (APPA) and the National Rural Electric Cooperative Association (NRECA) said Oct. 17 that the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) Clean Power Plan does not properly acknowledge the value of new carbon-free nuclear generation.

APPA President & CEO Sue Kelly and NRECA CEO Jo Ann Emerson made their comment during a telephone conference call was conducted from the Tennessee Valley Authority (TVA) Watts Bar 2 nuclear project.

The APPA and NRECA officials said although Watts Bar 2 will significantly reduce TVA reliance on coal and other carbon-emitting fossil fuels when it opens by the end of 2015, it would provide the state of Tennessee with little credit under the EPA CO2 proposal.

The states of Georgia and South Carolina are in similar situations when it comes to deployment of new nuclear units at Vogtle and V.C. Summer, the association leaders said.

The APPA and NRECA officials said nuclear really won’t help state compliance much with the EPA rule proposal under 111(d). “It’s like you already gave at the office and now you have to give at home too,” said APPA’s Kelly.

“They baked the numbers” into the EPA baseline numbers so Watts Bar 2 is treated as if it’s already operating, said NRECA’s Emerson.

Both officials did say that EPA officials have been willing to listen about electric industry concerns over treatment of nuclear power.

Nuclear energy represents a major financial commitment to a baseload power source that’s free of emissions, Kelly said. “This is not like throwing up a combined-cycle natural gas generation unit,” Kelly said.

The association heads said they will be filing comments by Dec. 1 on the EPA proposal to have states implement plans to reduce power sector CO2 emissions 30% by 2030.

During call, TVA Vice President for Watts Bar Construction and Operation Mike Skaggs said the project is more than 90% complete. The nuclear plant continues to be on track for fuel loading in the spring of 2015 with commercial operation by the end of 2015. There are roughly 2,750 workers involved in on-site construction.

 TVA hopes to load fuel at Watts Bar 2 in March 2015. Located in Spring City, Tenn., Watts Bar 2 is a reactor that TVA stopped developing years ago before deciding in 2007 to complete the nuclear unit.

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.