Taking One-third Of U.S. Coal-fired Power Plants Off The Grid By 2020 Simply Isn’t Workable

Obamaringingthebell109478_600Warner Baxter is chairman, president and CEO of St. Louis-based Ameren Corp, the largest energy provider in Missouri, serving more than 1.2 million electric and gas customers.  He says that” taking one-third of U.S. coal-fired power plants off the grid by 2020 simply isn’t workable”. He laid out the reasons for this belief  using a posting on the Wall Street Journal.com titled “The Dirty Secret of Obama’s Carbon Plan”. This posting is behind a paywall, so you may not be able to access it.

The following summary of Baxter’s  WSJ.com posting was prepared by “Weekly Climate and Energy News Roundup #177”.

“The Environmental Protection Agency’s Clean Power Plan, a proposed regulation limiting carbon emissions from existing coal-fired plants, threatens to jeopardize the reliability that Americans and businesses have come to depend upon. The EPA proposal calls for states to cut emissions by 30% from 2005 levels by 2030. It also imposes aggressive interim targets starting in 2020 that will test states’ ability to meet these standards without disrupting service. For example, 39 states must achieve more than 50% of their final target by 2020.

“Reliable power requires decades of careful planning. The appropriate amount and type of round-the-clock generation capacity, transmission and distribution lines must be finely balanced in advance to ensure the lights go on when a switch is flipped anywhere in the U.S. The EPA plan will significantly impair that planning process.

“The EPA’s proposal is causing concern among those who provide electricity for a living. The Federal Energy Regulatory Commission held an event in St. Louis on March 31, the last in a series of conferences on the implications of the plan. The North American Electric Reliability Corp., a nonprofit oversight group, has said the EPA plan could constitute “a significant reliability challenge, given the constrained time period for implementation.”

“These concerns are driven in large part by the planned retirement, mostly thanks to the EPA’s carbon plan, of about one-third of America’s coal-fired power plants by 2020. This represents enough generating capacity to supply the residential electricity of about 57 million Americans. That’s a lot of power being taken off the grid in a very short period.

 “It takes years to site, permit and construct replacement power plants, and EPA’s compliance timeline does not account for this reality. For example, if a new gas-fired power plant must be built to meet the EPA’s 2020 interim target, all permitting and development would need to be completed by 2017. But that is impossible because state compliance plans might not even be submitted to the EPA until 2017 or 2018, and the agency has said it may take up to a year to approve them.

“Beyond that, opening new natural-gas plants, as well as operating existing plants at higher levels, will require new pipeline infrastructure, and building natural-gas pipelines often takes five years or longer. More transmission lines will likely be needed to connect the new capacity to the grid. These projects can take 5-15 years. The point is that the 2020 interim targets are simply not achievable.

“… two safeguards should be added to the plan. First, it should include a mechanism to deal with reliability issues before a state’s plan is implemented. Such a mechanism would require the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission to examine the effects of state-submitted plans on regional reliability. If issues are identified, the state should be allowed to resubmit a revised plan and potentially adjust its targets to maintain reliability.

“Second, the EPA should incorporate a reliability safety valve that would operate throughout the compliance period if unforeseen events—such as tornadoes destroying a wind farm or extreme cold weather—require coal plants to operate at unanticipated levels. Owners of these coal plants need assurance that they will never be penalized for keeping the lights on.”

The Obama Administration operates like a bunch of professors in the coffee lounge that believe they know everything .   The real pro’s, people on the firing line, are not consulted.   Obamacare is an example.   What a disaster that is. His executivists tendency will continue to demonstrate that incompetence. We are the ones that feel the consequences.



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