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Environmental News - EPA Issues Proposed Rule on Carbon Emissions from Existing Power Plants
On June 2, 2014, the United States Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) issued a proposed rule pursuant to Section 111(d) of the Clean Air Act regarding emission guidelines for states to follow in developing plans to address greenhouse gas emissions from existing fossil fuel-fired electric generating units. EPA estimates that nationwide, by 2030, this rule would achieve carbon emission reductions of approximately 30 percent, as measured from 2005 levels. The crux of EPA’s proposal is state-specific targets for carbon reduction. EPA has structured each state’s goal in two parts: a state must meet an interim goal on average over the ten-year period from 2020-2029 and a final goal by 2030 and thereafter.
The emission guidelines for states are based on EPA’s determinations of the “best system of emission reduction.” EPA proposes that a mix of four “building blocks” comprise the best system of emission reduction: making fossil fuel power plants more efficient (e.g., by increasing heat rates); making more use of lower-emitting carbon sources (e.g., natural gas combined cycle units); using more zero and low-emitting carbon sources (e.g., nuclear and renewables); and using electricity more efficiently (e.g., demand-side energy efficiency).
Each state would be required to determine, and include in its state plan, emission performance levels for its affected plants. States are also offered the option to choose between a regional (i.e., multiple states) or a single state compliance approach. All states must submit initial or complete plans by June 30, 2016, with the potential for a one-year extension for individual state plans and a two-year extension for multi-state plans. Comments on the Proposed Rule are due 120 days from the date of publication in the Federal Register. The Proposed Rule can be accessed here.
Legislative News - Congress Acts to Spur Hydropower Development at Federal Facilities
On Tuesday, June 10, 2014, the President signed into law H.R. 3080, known as the Water Resources Reform and Development Act (“WRRDA”). WRRDA includes several provisions intended to expedite the development of non-federal hydropower projects at facilities operated by the Army Corps of Engineers. It specifically declares that the permitting of such projects by the Corps be completed in a timely manner. It also requires the Corps to submit a report to Congress detailing its efforts to encourage the development of non-federal hydropower projects at Corps facilities and its progress in reviewing and approving applications to develop such projects. The passage of WRRDA may accelerate a Corps approval process that many within the hydropower community have found to be protracted and problematic.
Joshua Adrian Featured as NRECA Guest Editorial on New Hydropower Development Opportunities
Energy News –Tremendous Potential For New Hydropower Development
On April 29, 2014, the Energy Department and its Oak Ridge National Laboratory released a hydropower resource assessment estimating that there are more than 65 gigawatts of potential new hydropower development across the U.S., which is nearly equivalent to current U.S. hydropower capacity. The assessment represents the most detailed evaluation of U.S. hydropower potential at undeveloped streams and rivers to date, analyzing stream- and river-specific information with variables such as endangered species, water use, water quality, protected lands, and recreational access. The assessment will assist in the identification of the most promising opportunities to develop clean, renewable hydropower.
Hydropower currently represents 7 percent of total U.S. electricity generation, and it continues to be the U.S.’s largest renewable energy source, keeping more than 200 million metric tons of carbon emissions from otherwise being released each year. The assessment highlights hydropower’s benefit as a reliable baseload power source, providing flexibility and diversity to the electric grid and allowing utilities to integrate other renewable sources such as wind and solar power. The report is available from the following link: