Basin Electric discusses Clean Power Plan with North Dakota PSC

The cooperative requested the meeting, which took place at the North Dakota Capitol June 3.

Basin Electric updated the North Dakota Public Service Commission (NDPSC) June 3 on a proposed power plant rule.

The meeting took place at the Capitol in Bismarck, ND, and regarded Section 111(d) of the Clean Air Act.

Section 111(d) addresses greenhouse gas standards for existing fossil fuel-fired power plants. Following the 2014 proposed rule, a final rule is scheduled to publish this year, with states required to provide a plan to meet the Environmental Protection Agency’s (EPA) expectations by June 2016.

As states await the final rule, which might not come out until late August or September, early June was a prime opportunity to reach out and discuss the rule with the NDPSC, said Dale Niezwaag, Basin Electric senior legislative representative.

Basin Electric expressed two main points during the meeting: the cooperative strongly opposes the rule on legal grounds, and it will support the states’ efforts to legally oppose the rule, as well as those to provide a state implementation plan that only recognizes specific portions of the EPA’s proposal.

“There are several legal arguments challenging the basis of the rule and the authority of EPA that we think have a good chance of being successful,” Niezwaag said.

In the event legal remedies fail and EPA forces the state to provide a plan showing full compliance with the rule, Niezwaag said Basin Electric gave the NDPSC ideas such as a multi-state, utility-based plan that would allow a utility to transfer low carbon megawatt-hours across state lines to offset emissions within its facilities to meet EPA compliance.

“We agree with the state’s current position of the proposed rule, which is that EPA only has the legal authority to increase the energy efficiency of existing power plants,” Niezwaag said, the same message the cooperative delivered to North Dakota Gov. Jack Dalrymple last week.