Proposed regulations pose threat to reliability

September 2023
Exterior of the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency building in Washington, D.C.

In May, the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) introduced extensive new regulations targeting both new and existing generating units. These proposed rules have the potential to undermine reliability and affordability in various ways.

If put into effect, the proposal would mandate impractical emissions standards for coal and natural gas-fired power plants. The suggested timelines for compliance within the proposed rules are not feasible for many utilities to achieve. These compliance deadlines put new and existing natural gas plants at risk, while practically ensuring the closure of coal units by 2035. Numerous factors come into play, including costs, supply chain complications, permitting hurdles, public opposition, land ownership/access considerations and more.

Furthermore, the proposal relies heavily on the widespread adoption of two emerging technologies: clean hydrogen and carbon capture and storage (CCS). Electric cooperatives are currently engaged in the development of five carbon capture projects and are at the forefront of technological advancement in this field. While both clean hydrogen and CCS show promise, they have not yet gained sufficient traction or commercial availability, nor have they been adequately demonstrated as required by the Clean Air Act (CAA).

Our national organization, the National Rural Electric Association (NRECA), submitted written comments to the EPA on Aug. 8 as part of the agency’s rulemaking process. The final rule is anticipated to be published in the spring of 2024.

NRECA has effectively utilized a call to action through the Voices for Cooperative Power (VCP) network. Since the establishment of VCP in May 2021, over 755,000 individuals from across the nation have become advocates for America’s electric cooperatives. Nearly 7% of these advocates are based in Oklahoma.

In response to the recent call to action regarding the proposed EPA rules, 652 advocates from Oklahoma have contributed comments to the EPA docket. While this comment period has concluded, I urge you to stand alongside fellow members and neighbors by signing up with VCP to receive alerts for future needs.

The current form of the EPA’s proposal is poised to worsen the existing challenges in ensuring reliability, which could have substantial repercussions for an electric grid that is already under strain. This proposal is unfeasible, unrealistic and could lead to a reduction in vital power generation resources, precisely when Americans are becoming more dependent on electricity.

Electric cooperatives are adopting a varied and inventive approach, encompassing actions like implementing microgrids, embracing renewables and launching demand response programs, all aimed at ensuring the steady supply of power today and in the future. We hold a steadfast position in advocating for the development of an approach to boost clean electricity production grounded in a practical timeline. We invite you to join us in supporting a transition to a cleaner grid with consideration for cost and reliability.



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