RGGI states reliance on natural gas could grow

Natural gas supplied the largest single source of power generated inside the nine states that comprise the Regional Greenhouse Gas Initiative (RGGI) in 2012 at 44%.

That’s according to information that the RGGI states filed days ago with the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) as part of the Nov. 5 RGGI state comments on EPA Clean Power Plan to reduce carbon dioxide (CO2) emissions.

Nuclear power was the second-largest source of power generated inside the region at 30%. Hydroelectric generation was third at 11% and coal was fourth at 9%.

In the 2012 baseline year proposed by the EPA, the RGGI states produced 5% of their in-region generation from the renewable resources of biomass, solar thermal and photovoltaic, wind, wood and wood derived fuels.

This is before retirement of Entergy (NYSE:ETR) Vermont Yankee plant and before the addition of many combined-cycle natural gas generation plants already in the pipeline. Nuclear power actually increased its percentage share of in-region generation between 2005 and 2012, according to RGGI.

The RGGI states include Connecticut, Delaware, Maine, Maryland, Massachusetts, New Hampshire, New York, Rhode Island, and Vermont.

In their comments, the RGGI states suggest that natural gas could be a key in powering the region while cutting CO2.

In New York alone, 18 new combined-cycle gas units came on-line between 2004 and 2011, increasing the state’s natural gas-fueled nameplate capacity by 150% in a seven-year period.

This experience is typical of the RGGI region, which added more than 21 GW of natural gas-fired generation capacity between 1997 and 2011. Compliance under the Clean Power Plan is not until 2030, a 16-year period from 2014.

While RGGI has endorsed the basic outlines of the EPA proposal to have states cut CO2 30% by 2030; it would like to see more recognition of new natural gas plants that are expected to come regardless of whether the EPA proposal becomes effective.

In the RGGI region, there are over 70 affected NGCC plants representing 25,559 MW of nameplate capacity. During the 2012 baseline year proposed by the EPA, affected combined-cycle plants across the RGGI region operated at an average 48% capacity factor

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.