EIA weighs in on impact of EPA Clean Power Plan

The Energy Information Administration (EIA) has issued its own analysis of the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) Clean Power Plan.

The 103-page EIA report, issued May 22, responds to an August 2014 request from Rep. Lamar Smith (R-Texas), Chairman of the U.S. House of Representatives Committee on Science, Space, and Technology.

A final version of the EPA rule proposal is expected out this summer. Some court challenges have already been filed. The EPA rule calls upon states to issue implementation plans designed to reduce power sector carbon dioxide (CO2) emissions 30% by 2030.

The EIA analysis does suggest that the Clean Power Plan would reduce power sector CO2 emissions.

“Reductions in projected emissions in 2030 relative to baseline projections for that year range from 484 to 625 million metric tons,” EIA said in a summary of its findings on its website. “The projected power sector emissions level in 2030 ranges from 1,553 to 1,727 million metric tons across the cases, reflecting a reduction of between 29% and 36% relative to the 2005 emissions level of 2,416 million metric tons,” EIA said.

Power sector CO2 emissions declined by 363 million metric tons between 2005 and 2013, due to a decline in coal’s generation share and growing use of natural gas and renewables, but the CO2 emissions are projected to change only modestly from 2013 through 2040 in the 3 baseline cases used in this report, EIA said.

The starting point for EIA’s analysis of the Clean Power Plan is the Annual Energy Outlook 2015 (AEO2015) Reference case rather than earlier AEO projections that were developed using versions of EIA’s National Energy Modeling System (NEMS) that lack the model structure needed to analyze key features of the proposal, EIA said.

At Smith’s request, the EIA report looks at scenarios that would extend the Clean Power Plan beyond 2030 and seek to reduce CO2 emissions from electric power generation by 45% relative to the 2005 level by 2040.

Other scenarios considered by EIA would treat future nuclear energy capacity similar to renewable energy. The EIA also considered scenarios where there was “no availability of markets for CO2 captured from electric power plants for enhanced oil recovery.” EIA also considered an alternative compliance phase-in trajectory during the 2020-29 period and other factors – including inter-regional CO2 trading.

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.