EPA drafts Clean Power Plan

 On June 2, 2014, the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency, under President Obama’s Climate Action Plan, proposed a commonsense plan to cut carbon pollution from power plants. According to NRDC, it is estimated that $37.4 billion in savings on electric bills by 2020, if  states use energy efficiency as the key approach to reduce carbon. Many see the plan having a positive impact on the demand for energy efficiency-related jobs; electricians, roofers, carpenters, insulation workers, heating/air conditioning installers.   The drafted rule gives states an “unprecedented flexibility to meet their obligations within an all-of-the-above set of options, tailored to each state’s needs and opportunities. A flexible approach will keep electricity affordable for American families and businesses, spark homegrown clean energy innovation that creates jobs, and increase energy efficiency to save families money”, says Ernest Moniz, US energy secretary. 

NRDC analysis of electricity bill savings if 13 states use energy-efficiency driven carbon reduction plans reveals a total savings( household, commercial and industrial) ranging from $7 million to $1 billion.

The two main objectives of the proposal according to EPA are:

  • Consistent national frameworkThe Clean Power Plan will put in place a consistent national framework that builds on work states are already doing to reduce carbon pollution – especially through programs that encourage renewable energy or energy efficiency. It will reduce carbon pollution from existing power plants while ensuring a reliable and affordable supply of power.
     
  • Maximizing flexibilitiesEPA’s proposal ensures that states have the flexibility to choose the best set of cost-effective reductions for them. By setting a state-specific goal and allowing states to work individually or in regional groups, EPA is making sure states have the flexibility they need to drive investment in innovation, while ensuring reliability and affordability.

Some critics of the Clean Power Plan worry that states where work is already under way to reduce carbon pollution may have do more work and spend more money to comply than those states that have made no effort to reduce carbon pollution.   Energy Secretary Len Peters and Tom FitzGerald, director of the Kentucky Resources Council have said the law would likely limit the state’s compliance flexibility.  They feel the plan is focused on carbon reduction actions at power plants, and doesn’t emphasize the importance of an EPA approved program that might include energy efficiency at homes and businesses or encouraging alternatives to coal.

As of right now, the proposal is in a 120-day public comment period and further EPA review. A final rule is expected out in one year.

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