EPA’s proposed rule doesn’t faze some Texas providers

Source: Jim Malewitz, Texas Tribune • Posted: Thursday, July 17, 2014

Despite Texas lawmakers’ ire at the Obama administration’s proposed carbon rule, some utilities — particularly municipal providers — say they are already on their way to meeting U.S. EPA targets to reduce emissions from existing power plants.

Under EPA’s proposal, Texas power plants could have to reduce their emissions by up to 195 billion pounds of carbon dioxide over the next 18 years.

“With all the things we’ve done, we’ll be ready by the compliance dates,” said Doyle Beneby, president of CPS Energy, San Antonio’s municipally owned utility.

But municipal utilities like CPS and Austin Energy have already made large investments in renewable energy sources or committed to retiring coal plants. El Paso Electric says by 2016, none of its electricity will be coal-fired. One utility — investor-owned Calpine Corp., whose plants are mostly gas-powered — has even endorsed the carbon rule.

Almost one-third of Texas’ power was coal-fired in 2012, and some utilities have a disproportionate share of it. Last year, coal accounted for over 70 percent of power generated by Luminant, Texas’ largest investor-owned provider. Luminant’s parent company, Energy Future Holdings Corp., filed for Chapter 11 bankruptcy in April.

Robert Cullick, Austin Energy’s spokesman, said municipal utilities are better positioned than those on the state’s deregulated market.

“Our approach doesn’t look to the next quarter but looks at what’s most beneficial to the citizens and the ratepayers,” he said. “We take the long-run view” (Jim Malewitz, Texas Tribune, July 15)