Governors urge EPA to boost wind with emissions rule

Source: Jean Chemnick, E&E reporter • Posted: Friday, May 9, 2014

Twenty-three governors, including several opponents of U.S. EPA carbon dioxide regulations for existing power plants, have asked the agency to take full advantage of wind energy when promulgating its upcoming rule.

The Governor’s Wind Energy Coalition urged EPA Administrator Gina McCarthy in a letter yesterday to encourage states to tap their wind energy potential as they comply with the rule, which is due to be proposed next month.”Although some of our members do not agree with this proposed EPA action, we all urge you to consider wind energy as an effective and proven clean energy source for our consumers and businesses, as well as its positive impact on economic development of our states,” said the governors, led by South Dakota’s Dennis Daugaard (R) and Washington’s Jay Inslee (D).The group’s membership is diverse, both politically and in terms of their current carbon-reduction policies. But all boast some form of renewable energy goal or standard that could be used to help them meet a CO2 standard EPA proposes under Section 111(d) of the Clean Air Act.

Participating states also include Arkansas, California, Colorado, Delaware, Hawaii, Illinois, Iowa, Kansas, Kentucky, Maryland, Massachusetts, Michigan, Minnesota, Montana, New Mexico, New York, North Dakota, Oklahoma, Oregon, Pennsylvania and Rhode Island.

The governors also made a pitch for EPA to give states as much flexibility as possible to meet its standard, expedite the approval of state plans when they are submitted to the agency after the rule is finalized and give credit for renewable energy investments that have already been made.

“On behalf of the coalition, we respectfully urge you to support wind energy’s potential to further reduce carbon emissions while helping to maintain the reliability and affordability of the nation’s electricity system,” they said.

While the states agree that credit should be given to wind, they have submitted comments to EPA individually or as part of other coalitions that diverge on how the rule should be constructed, or whether it should be written at all.

States with substantial existing carbon policies — including California, Washington, Oregon, Minnesota and the Northeastern members of the Regional Greenhouse Gas Initiative — have asked for a relatively stringent rule that bases emissions targets on CO2 reductions that can be achieved “outside the fence line” of a power plant — such as utility-sponsored demand-side efficiency programs, renewable energy, and combined heat and power opportunities.

But other states in the wind coalition want EPA to set a reduction target that can be achieved through the use of proved “best practices” at individual plants — a much more modest standard that states could then allow utilities to satisfy instead through more renewable energy use, efficiency or other measures. States on the wind letter that take this view include Oklahoma, North Dakota and Kentucky.

Also today, the members of the “Three N” group of state regulators — the National Association of Clean Air Agencies, National Association of State Energy Officials and National Association of Regulatory Utility Commissioners — announced that they had approved and would submit to EPA their principles on how they would like the rule to be constructed (Greenwire, April 30).

They, too, have urged EPA to grant states maximum flexibility in writing state implementation plans.

NARUC President Colette Honorable in a statement touted the role states have played in developing and implementing energy efficiency programs.

“This early action has equipped our nation with the tools necessary to further reduce emissions and promote more efficient electricity usage,” she said.

The groups are silent about whether the rule should require reductions to be made outside the fence line of a plant or should take the more limited view urged by many fossil-fuels-rich states.