EPA Rule Affects Electricity Delivery, Too

TERESA HANSEN   Editor in chief
TERESA HANSEN

June 2, 2014, was a landmark day for the U.S. electricity industry. That’s the day the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) issued its proposed carbon dioxide regulations for existing power plants. There have been few, if any, EPA rules that have affected electricity generators to the extent this rule does.

It’s easy to see why and how the rule will affect generators, but it’s important to understand that the rule also will affect electricity delivery.

As utilities shutter power plants rather than comply with the new stringent emissions rule, many will look for ways to reduce load-at least short term-to offset the need to build new generating capacity or buy electricity to replace that load. So energy efficiency measures are sure to be a part of some utilities’ coping strategies. If electric bills rise as predicted, electricity consumers will look for ways to save energy. Many will adopt energy efficiency measures, and some will generate their own electricity and sell the excess back to their electricity providers.

Many experts predict wind and solar will replace much of the lost coal-fired capacity, which the EPA is banking on.

The switch to more renewable generation and distributed energy resources began before the EPA’s latest rule, but this rule ensures those trends will increase. The trends have been and will continue to be a disruptive force in electricity delivery.

On June 3, DNV GL (formerly DNV KEMA, GL and Garrad Hassan) announced the results of research it conducted among 200 energy leaders. The research reveals that utilities are “accepting of an energy future characterized by increasingly distributed forms of energy generation and storage-and they are taking action to ready themselves and shape the outcomes.”

The survey revealed that energy leaders recognize a significant shift in the power sector that is partly because of changes in clean energy policy, such as the one handed down June 2, and new technical capabilities. Those surveyed said this shift will have significant implications on how they produce and deliver electricity. In addition, they said these changes will disrupt existing business models.

So if you’re tempted to pity those poor folks who work in the generation side of the industry, remember, we’re all in this together. The EPA’s new rule means big changes for everyone.

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As associate editor of RenewableEnergyWorld.com, Meg coordinates and edits feature stories, contributed articles, news stories, opinion pieces and blogs. She also conducts research and writes content for RenewableEnergyWorld.com and REW magazine. She manages REW.com social media including Facebook, Twitter (@REWorld), LinkedIn, and YouTube -- join the conversation! Formerly  an Associate Editor of ideaLaunch in Boston, MA. Meg holds a BA in English from the University of Massachusetts and a certificate in Professional Communications: Writing from Emerson College.                

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