Public power, rural cooperatives pan Clean Power Plan

Representatives of the American Public Power Association (APPA) and the National Rural Electric Cooperative Association (NRECA) made it clear Dec. 1 that they find a lot to dislike in the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) Clean Power Plan.

EPA issued the rule proposal in June that seeks to have states implement plans to cut power sector carbon dioxide (CO2) emissions 30% by 2030. The heads of the two associations, APPA President & CEO Sue Kelly and NRECA CEO Jo Ann Emerson, had said during a joint appearance in October that they had many concerns about the greenhouse gas (GHG) proposal from EPA.

The EPA is asking people “to pay more for electricity and use less of it,” Emerson said during a conference call with reporters on Dec. 1, which was the last day for parties to submit comments on the proposal.

“At the heart of things we oppose the EPA regulations because they are going to raise electric rates, threaten reliability and are illegal under the Clean Air Act,” Emerson said. The NRECA official said electric cooperatives could see double-digit rate increases. The rule is also virtually “impossible to implement,” and shows a “misunderstanding of the electric industry.”

Cooperatives cannot spread the costs of compliance with shareholders on Wall Street and must pass on the increases to customers. Electric cooperatives also serve most of the “persistent poverty” counties in the United States, Emerson said.

 APPA said in a news release that it agrees that the electricity sector needs to reduce CO2 emissions, but cautions against the dangers of the proposed rule trying to do too much too quickly.

Like NRECA, APPA questions if EPA proposed rule would go beyond what is legally permissible under section 111(d) and conflict with the authority of other federal, state, and local government entities.

“This rule, as proposed, aims to make unprecedented changes to the way energy will be generated and used in this country,” said APPA President and CEO Kelly. “These changes will ripple over the next several decades, so they must be made carefully and collaboratively. In our comments, we’ve laid out constructive changes to make the proposed rule more likely to work in the real world and fulfill its intended purpose,” Kelly said.

APPA wants a more accurate baseline period. Both APPA and NRECA also want EPA to fully credit states for changes already made in reducing carbon through renewables and energy efficiency. Both organizations also want more credit assigned toward new nuclear power plants now under construction.

Nuclear Matters co-chair, former Senator Evan Bayh (D-Ind.) issued a statement saying that the pro-nuclear group wants nuclear to be more recognized in the final EPA rule on carbon.

APPA said it wants a reliability “safety valve” to ensure that compliance does not impair system reliability or conflict with North American Electric Reliability Corporation (NERC) standards.

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.