APPA says Clean Power Plan doesn’t properly weigh small business concerns

The American Public Power Association (APPA) has submitted written comments to the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) regarding Small Business Advocacy Review (SBAR) of EPA’s federal Plan for regulating greenhouse gas emissions from Electric Generating Units (EGU).

The 39 pages of written comments on small business review were filed May 28.

The comments note that there are dozens of public power utilities serving communities with less than 50,000 people that would be covered by the EPA proposal because they have at least 25 MW of nameplate fossil fuel generation.

“Overburdening these small public power utilities would result in substantial cost increases to other local small businesses that are already economically distressed,” according to the APPA comments.

“EPA is required by law to consider the impacts a rule of this magnitude will have on small businesses,” said APPA Senior Vice President of Regulatory Affairs and Communications Joe Nipper. “In our view, it has fallen woefully short on this requirement, and many of our member-utilities stand to face grave consequences.”

More than 90% of public power utilities qualify as small businesses under the Small Business Regulatory Enforcement Fairness Act of 1996 (SBREFA). Many of these small utilities rely on a single generation resource that produces less than 100 MW. The lack of compliance options for these utilities will likely result in substantial cost increases for their customers, APPA said.  

The EPA is legally compelled to both carefully consider the impact its proposed federal plan will have on small entities and to lessen the burden of the rule on those small entities. EPA failed to provide SBAR panel members with information on the potential impacts of this rule and has not provided Small Entity Representatives with the necessary information with which to discuss alternatives and provide recommendations to EPA, as required by the Regulatory Flexibility Act as amended by SBREFA.

APPA recommends that EPA’s federal plan include multi-year averaging for compliance over at least a five year period, a provision ensuring small entities have a broad access to emission reductions outside the “fence-line” and full credit for early actions, a mechanism to account for the remaining useful life of a generating unit owned by a small entity, a reduction in reporting requirements for small EGUs, and a compliance option that would prevent stranded costs.

APPA had already filed an extensive set of comments on Dec. 1, 2014, outlining its concerns with EPA’s proposed rule under section 111(d) of the Clean Air Act (CAA) to reduce emissions of carbon dioxide (CO2) from fossil fuel-fired EGUs.

“In general, we believe the Proposed Rule imposes inequitably distributed additional costs to consumers, threatens electric system reliability, and forces an over-reliance on a single fuel—natural gas—to generate electricity,” APPA said of the overall rule.

EPA announced plans to convene a SBAR panel on April 30, 2015, and held its first preliminary teleconference on May 1, 2015, an in-person meeting on May 14, 2015, and a follow up teleconference on May 19, 2015.

“The unusually short timeframe did not provide Small Entity Representatives (SERs) with sufficient time to offer meaningful comment and participation in the SBREFA process,” the public power group said.

“APPA believes EPA has not prepared sufficient materials to convene this SBAR panel. The Agency has not provided the panel members with information on the potential impacts of this proposed rule, nor has it provided SERs with the necessary information upon which to discuss alternatives and provide recommendations to EPA, as required by SBREFA, according to APPA.

APPA is the national service organization representing the interests of not-for-profit, publicly owned electric utilities.

 

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.