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On April 11, the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) announced new proposed standards for regulating carbon dioxide emissions from new and existing fossil fuel-fired power plants. The proposed action would set limits for new gas-fired combustion turbines; existing coal, oil and gas-fired steam generating units; and certain existing gas-fired combustion turbines. In addition, the EPA proposes repealing the Affordable Clean Energy (ACE) rule.

An EPA rule summary states: “Consistent with EPA’s traditional approach to establishing pollution standards for power plants under section 111 of the Clean Air Act, the proposed standards are based on technologies such as carbon capture and sequestration/storage (CCS), low-GHG hydrogen co-firing, and natural gas co-firing, which can be applied directly to power plants that use fossil fuels to generate electricity.” 

In response, National Rural Electric Cooperative Association (NRECA) CEO Jim Matheson issued the following statement:
“This proposal will further strain America’s electric grid and undermine decades of work to reliably keep the lights on across the nation. And it is just the latest instance of EPA failing to prioritize reliable electricity as a fundamental expectation of American consumers. We’re concerned the proposal could disrupt domestic energy security, force critical always available power plants into early retirement, and make new natural gas plants exceedingly difficult to permit, site, and build. 

The North American Reliability Corp (NERC) has indicated the United States is experiencing a “disorderly retirement” of older power plants because the replacement power is insufficient or not coming online quickly enough to meet demand. An insufficient available power supply remains a significant concern to NRECA and electric cooperatives.

“Nine states experienced rolling blackouts last December as the demand for electricity exceeded the available supply,” Matheson said. “Those situations will become even more frequent if EPA continues to craft rules without any apparent consideration of impacts on electric grid reliability. American families and businesses rightfully expect the lights to stay on at a price they can afford. EPA needs to recognize the impact this proposal will have on the future of reliable energy before it’s too late.”   

Victory Electric will continue to monitor the proposal and inform members about any developments. The EPA will be accepting comments on the proposal following its publication in the Federal Register, and NRECA will provide additional input during that time.