Release of rule for existing plants may slip, will include ideas to promote renewables

Source: Nick Juliano, E&E reporter • Posted: Friday, April 18, 2014

The Obama administration’s landmark rule to reduce the power sector’s contributions to climate change may be released nearly a month behind schedule and will feature numerous ideas about how to promote alternative sources of energy and otherwise remake the electric grid, U.S. EPA’s second in command said at a White House forum on solar energy today.
Deputy Administrator Bob Perciasepe said EPA helps to drive demand for solar energy deployment and other changes that reduce emissions from electricity production as part of its broader role in implementing President Obama’s Climate Action Plan.A centerpiece of the agency’s climate efforts is the upcoming rule to reduce greenhouse gas emissions from existing power plants, which Perciasepe said today would come out in “late June, maybe even the end of June” — a delay compared to previously announced plans to release the rule June 1.Perciasepe also expanded on the ways in which EPA is looking beyond power plant smokestacks to drive down emissions with the rule.

“The key point is we’re going to be looking at ways to get beyond the fence line of electric generating facilities,” Perciasepe said during a panel at the White House summit, which was broadcast live online.

“Once you open that concept and try to develop a program that can utilize changes in the broader electric generating system — or the grid, as we sometimes like to call it — that opens up a lot of different opportunities,” he added. “So when you see our proposal in June, you will see a lot of different ideas in there about how we might go about doing that and building it into the system.”

As it related to the solar industry that was the focus of today’s White House conference, EPA’s role is “organizing and recognizing demand,” Perciasepe said.

EPA is approaching the Clean Air Act Section 111(d) rulemaking with a recognition that existing power plants have less ability to install pollution controls than those that would be built from scratch, and officials have all but promised they will not be demanding installation of carbon capture and sequestration as they have for new plants.

The agency has been collaborating with states and other stakeholders to maximize the tools available under the little-used section of the Clean Air Act they are working with, to promote efficiency, renewable energy and other technologies that could drive down emissions throughout the system while maintaining a reliable grid. However, the idea of going outside the fence has not been without controversy, as some utilities say EPA should narrow its focus to what they can achieve on-site (Greenwire, Oct. 7, 2013).