By Corina Rivera Linares,
Chief Analyst, TransmissionHub
EPA Administrator Scott Pruitt recently issued a notice of proposed rulemaking, proposing to repeal the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency’s (EPA) Clean Power Plan (CPP), according to an EPA statement. A repeal of the CPP would not affect the electric transmission and generation plans of such companies as Idaho Power, FirstEnergy and many others, company officials told TransmissionHub.
EPA said that after reviewing the CPP, it “has proposed to determine that the Obama-era regulation exceeds the agency’s statutory authority. Repealing the CPP will also facilitate the development of U.S. energy resources and reduce unnecessary regulatory burdens associated with the development of those resources, in keeping with the principles established in President Trump’s Executive Order on Energy Independence.”
Pruitt said in the statement: “EPA will respect the limits of statutory authority. The CPP ignored states’ concerns and eroded longstanding and important partnerships that are a necessary part of achieving positive environmental outcomes. We can now assess whether further regulatory action is warranted; and, if so, what is the most appropriate path forward, consistent with the Clean Air Act and principles of cooperative federalism.”
An Idaho Power spokesperson on Oct. 12 told TransmissionHub that the company is working on two large 500-kV projects that were initiated prior to the CPP, adding, “The plan did not have an impact on the need for those projects, and they remain in progress.”
Two 500-kV projects that Idaho Power is working on, according to its website, are the Boardman to Hemingway Transmission Line Project and the Gateway West Transmission Line Project.
The spokesperson noted that Idaho Power evaluates its resource adequacy every two years as part of its Integrated Resource Plan (IRP), which identifies the resources needed to reliably serve the growing demand for energy in Idaho Power’s service area over the next 20 years. Idaho Power’s selected resource portfolio is designed to balance cost, risk and environmental concerns, he said.
He continued, “As a result, the Clean Power Plan was not the primary driver in the resource decisions Idaho Power outlined in its 2017 IRP. In that plan, we anticipate the early retirement of some coal-fired units. Those decisions were founded on economic considerations, primarily the low cost of natural gas and the capital costs required to operate and maintain the coal units. We don’t anticipate that repealing the Clean Power Plan will alter the economics behind those decisions.”
In a statement provided to TransmissionHub in October, Frank Prager, vice president, policy and federal affairs for Xcel Energy, said: “We are continuing to move forward with our clean energy plans regardless of the EPA’s approach to carbon regulation. Our primary focus, as always, is on the states we serve and working with them to achieve our clean energy objectives. It’s an approach we’ve demonstrated is the best path to significantly reduce carbon emissions and transform the power grid while maintaining reliable, low-cost energy for customers.”
A Duke Energy spokesperson on Oct. 11 said that the company believes that a balanced portfolio of energy resources is important to providing reliable electricity at affordable rates.
“We plan our system and our investments over decades to meet the needs of our customers,” she said, adding that Duke is planning to invest $25 billion in grid modernization and $11 billion in cleaner generation over the next 10 years.
“Our focus is on building a smarter energy future for our customers, and we remain committed to the investments we’ve planned,” she said. “Because the Supreme Court had halted implementation of the Clean Power Plan, the proposed rescinding of the rule has no immediate impact on Duke Energy.”
A FirstEnergy spokesperson on Oct. 11 told TransmissionHub that the company is not in a position to speculate about potential impacts of EPA’s action on renewables resources or transmission.
“With respect to our generation business, a repeal of the Clean Power Plan does not change FirstEnergy’s decision to exit competitive generation, which is based on challenges of operating in a competitive market,” the spokesperson said, adding that the company will continue with the strategic review of its competitive generating plants, and will complete that process by mid-2018.
FirstEnergy is reviewing EPA’s action and looks forward to learning more as the regulatory process continues, the spokesperson said.
In a statement provided to TransmissionHub on Oct. 11, American Transmission Co. (ATC), said: “Since the Clean Power Plan was not fully enacted, its potential repeal does not impact ATC. Therefore, we do not maintain a position on this matter.”
Clarke Bruno—who oversees Anbaric’s legal affairs and projects in the Mid-Atlantic region, as well as projects in Canada—on Oct. 11 told TransmissionHub that the proposed repeal of the CPP “has no effect” on the company’s plans for electric transmission development.
“We understood that this was in the works when the election occurred and expected it,” he said. “Though regrettable it’s not a surprise. We continue to develop projects to meet states’ RPS (renewable portfolio standard) goals.”
On whether repealing the CPP will facilitate the development of U.S. energy resources and reduce unnecessary regulatory burdens, as the EPA claimed, Bruno said: “I am skeptical about the prospects of repealing the CPP. It was based on sound science and the courts will likely view efforts to roll it back as arbitrary.”
In a statement provided to TransmissionHub on Oct. 12, Entergy said that it remains focused on its long-term plans, which include enhancing its generation assets and working closely with its regulators to improve reliability and efficiency.
A New York Power Authority spokesperson on Oct. 12 told TransmissionHub, “(There) will be no impact to NYPA’s transmission or renewable energy development plans if the Clean Power Plan is repealed.”
He also said, “New York has embarked on modernizing its grid and moving toward a more consumer-oriented energy system providing for more resiliency, affordability and to make it cleaner under Reforming the Energy Vision long before the Clean Power Plan’s enactment.”
The American Public Power Association supports the repeal of the CPP, as noted in a separate Oct. 10 statement.
“We do need a replacement rule that will allow our community-owned, not-for-profit member public power utilities the flexibility to provide reliable, low-cost electricity to more than 49 million Americans, while protecting the environment,” Carolyn Slaughter, director of environmental services with the association, added in the statement.
Slaughter said that a replacement to the CPP must be based upon a “best system of emission reduction” that can be applied within the fence line of an electric generating unit; allow states to make a case-by-case determination for flexible emission limits for certain units; and account for the remaining useful life of an electric generating unit.
An American Electric Power (AEP) spokesperson on Oct. 11 told TransmissionHub that the company supports a replacement for the CPP that is consistent with the EPA’s legal authority under the Clean Air Act.
However, AEP is moving to a cleaner energy future, driven by new technologies and the expectations of its customers and shareholders, the spokesperson said.
AEP has factored future carbon regulations into its evaluation of generation resource options for many years, and it continues to do so, the spokesperson said, adding that AEP has cut its CO2 emissions by 44 percent since 2000, and will reduce emissions further as it continues to transition to cleaner forms of energy.
The spokesperson noted that AEP in July announced plans to invest $4.5 billion in the “largest single-site” wind farm in the United States in Oklahoma and a 350-mile, 765-kV transmission line to deliver that clean energy to its customers. Between now and 2030, AEP plans to add about 2,400 MW of solar generation, 4,900 MW of wind generation, and 2,130 MW of natural gas generation to its generating fleet, subject to regulatory approvals, she said.
In addition, AEP is investing $9 billion in the transmission grid in the same timeframe to make the bulk power delivery system more resilient and responsive to new resources and technologies, the spokesperson said.
In a statement provided to TransmissionHub on Oct. 11, Quin Shea, Edison Electric Institute vice president, Environment, said: “As EPA moves to repeal the Clean Power Plan, we also encourage the agency to move forward with a replacement rule that provides states with compliance flexibility, and that allows the electric power industry to continue its fleet transition.”
Shea added that as of 2016, the industry’s carbon dioxide emissions have been reduced 25 percent from 2005 levels, and that trajectory is expected to continue over the long term.
A PJM Interconnection spokesperson on Oct. 12 told TransmissionHub that PJM does not advocate environmental policy.
“We are neutral but stand ready to support policymakers with analysis and information that may help them as they consider policies,” the spokesperson said. “To that end, last September PJM published an analysis of CPP compliance pathways at the request of our states.”