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EPA’s proposed Clean Power Plan wrong for South Dakota, PUC says

The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency’s proposed plan to regulate carbon emissions from existing power plants will have harmful results on the reliability and affordability of electricity in South Dakota if implemented as it is currently written, warned the South Dakota Public Utilities Commission. The PUC responded to the EPA’s call for comments to its Clean Power Plan by thoroughly analyzing the proposal, discussing effects with South Dakota stakeholders and submitting extensive written comments to the federal agency this month. Those comments can be read on the PUC’s website at www.PUC.SD.gov/energy/111dcomments.aspx

In mid-June of this year the EPA rolled out its proposed rule to regulate carbon emissions from existing power plants under the Clean Air Act §111(d). The agency initially opened a comment period until mid-October for the myriad parties that would be affected by the complex rule to share their concerns. The EPA extended the comment period to Dec. 1, after receiving feedback from numerous parties about the compressed timeline. The EPA expects to finalize the rule by June 1, 2015. States will be required to submit their plans on how to comply with the rule by June 30, 2016. The South Dakota Department of Environment and Natural Resources will be responsible for compiling and filing the state plan with the EPA.

In its proposed rule, the EPA specifies carbon reduction goals for the state that are based on national or regional averages with no consideration for the production and dispatch of energy in South Dakota that crosses state boundaries. The existing power plants in South Dakota targeted by the EPA’s proposal are the Big Stone Plant, a coal-fired plant near Milbank jointly operated by Otter Tail Power Co., NorthWestern Energy and Montana-Dakota Utilities Co.; and Deer Creek Station, a natural gas combined cycle plant near Elkton owned by Basin Electric Power Cooperative. The EPA’s proposal does not give credit for carbon-free electricity generated by hydropower plants located along the Missouri River in South Dakota.

PUC Commissioners Gary Hanson, Chris Nelson and Kristie Fiegen are unified in their opposition to the EPA’s proposed plan and in supporting the comments the PUC has filed. Paramount among their concerns are the proposal’s use of flawed assumptions and suggestions of carbon emission reductions that are not technically feasible, resulting in dramatic increases in the cost of electricity to consumers and a reckless disregard for electric reliability.

The PUC’s written comments focus on four primary elements: educating the EPA about South Dakota’s electric industry; identifying concerns with EPA’s short compliance timeline; identifying technical issues with the building blocks EPA has specified for states to use to comply with the Clean Power Plan; and providing economic impacts forecasted for South Dakota.

“The EPA’s proposal will be destructive to our economy,” said PUC Chairman Hanson. “I agree that environmental prudence should be part of national energy policy. I also firmly believe that energy must be affordable and reliable. I am frustrated that the EPA’s plan obviously bypasses essential facts about South Dakota’s reality. If the plan is unchanged, our state’s consumers will pay dearly,” he concluded.

“I believe the comments the PUC submitted to the EPA do a great job of stating why the EPA’s proposal is unrealistic and unattainable for South Dakota without significant cost,” stated PUC Vice Chairman Nelson. “This plan concerns me to the core and the PUC will continue to do all that we can to moderate its impact to South Dakota consumers, farmers and business people,” Nelson said.

“South Dakota is known for its common sense approach to challenges and changes,” commented Commissioner Fiegen. “Unfortunately, the EPA doesn’t place common sense very high on its priority scale, as reflected in this proposed plan. It is important that South Dakota energy consumers know that the PUC will continue to dig our heels in and advocate for rational and reasonable solutions on their behalf,” she said.

The PUC hosted a forum in July 2014 to discuss the proposed Clean Power Plan with representatives of South Dakota’s electric industry, the EPA and the state’s congressional delegation. Access presentations and recordings of the forum at www.PUC.SD.gov/energy/111dcomments.aspx

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Top 5 reasons to give ENERGY STAR

The best gifts do great things, and the hottest gifts this season are in electronics and home entertainment. But the best gifts are also good for the environment. ENERGY STAR certified home electronics go beyond the latest features and functions to deliver great energy efficiency.

Top 5 Reasons to Give ENERGY STAR

  1. TVs offer the hottest featuresENERGY STAR certified TVs offer the most popular features and technologies—Smart TV functionality, Ultra High Definition, large screens, LED backlighting—and they’re over 25% more energy efficient than standard models.
  2. Sound bars sound even better — Some of the most popular new products—sound bars, wireless speakers, and gadgets with Bluetooth connectivity—can also earn the ENERGY STAR. Your gift will be a sure hit, and be up to 60% more efficient.
  3. Give the “bright” gift — ENERGY STAR certified LED bulbs make great gifts and stocking stuffers! We’ve all heard about this exciting new development in light bulb technology, but to get the energy efficiency and performance you expect, look for the ENERGY STAR label. LED bulbs that earn the label are independently certified to ensure they deliver on brightness and color, and shine light where you want it.
  4. ‘Tis the season to be streaming — If your loved ones like streaming movies or videos, let them know that laptops and tablets use the least amount of energy. Slates and tablets that have earned the ENERGY STAR use 10 times less power to stream than a game console does. They use 7 times less power than streaming directly to your television and 6 times less than streaming to a desktop computer and monitor. Now that’s a gift they’ll really love!
  5. The environment is on everyone’s wish list — Shopping for electronics can be overwhelming. The little blue ENERGY STAR label is the simple choice. It says this product delivers much more than innovative technology. It says this product is designed and certified to save energy. Choosing ENERGY STAR says you’re reducing your carbon footprint and helping in the fight against climate change. Your loved ones will appreciate that.
Source: ENERGY STAR

ES_LogoENERGY STAR® is the simple choice for energy efficiency. For more than 20 years, people across America have looked to EPA’s ENERGY STAR program for guidance on saving energy, saving money, and protecting the environment. Behind each blue label is a product, building, or home that is independently certified to use less energy and cause fewer of the emissions that contribute to climate change. Visit energystar.gov/changetheworld today and tell all your friends!

Heartland is proud to partner with ENERGY STAR to promote energy efficient products and practices that save money and protect our environment. For more information about our partnership, visit hcpd.com/energyefficiency/partnerships/.

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Attorneys general say ‘numerous legal defects’ provide grounds for invalidation of EPA proposed plan for existing plants

By Paul Ciampoli, News Director, American Public Power Association
From the December 1, 2014 issue of Public Power Daily; Originally published November 26, 2014
The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency’s proposed plan to reduce carbon dioxide emissions from existing power plants “has numerous legal defects, each of which provides an independent basis to invalidate the rule in its entirety,” 17 attorneys general said in Nov. 26 comments filed at the EPA.
In June, EPA proposed emission guidelines for carbon dioxide emissions from existing fossil fuel-fired power plants, invoking its authority under Section 111(d) of the Clean Air Act (CAA).EPA’s proposal “attempts to use the Clean Air Act to override states’ energy policies and impose a national energy and resource-planning policy that picks winners and losers based solely on EPA’s policy choices, forcing states to favor renewable energy sources and demand-reduction measures over fossil fuel-fired electric production,” the attorneys general said in their comments. “But the Clean Air Act generally and Section 111(d) specifically do not give EPA that breathtakingly broad authority to reorganize states’ economies,” they said.

The attorneys general said that the proposed rule is unlawful because, among other things, EPA has chosen to regulate coal-fired power plants under Section 112 of the Clean Air Act. Section 111(d) specifically prohibits EPA from invoking that same section of the law [Section 111(d)] where the “source category . . . is regulated under” Section 112, the attorneys general said.

“Given the multitude of legal deficiencies in its proposal, some of which go to the heart of its authority to regulate fossil-fuel-fired power plants under Clean Air Act Section 111(d), EPA should honor the Act’s core statutory limitations on its authority and formally determine that Section 111(d) standards are not appropriate for fossil fuel-fired power plants,” they argued.

If EPA does finalize Section 111(d) standards for fossil-fuel-fired power plants, “it should not perpetuate the unlawful act by attempting to reorganize states’ energy economies, but should instead promulgate emission guidelines based on the best system of emission reduction that is actually achievable at individual facilities, which states could then consider in establishing performance standards to individual power plants in their jurisdictions,” the attorneys general added.

Stating that the EPA’s Mercury and Air Toxics Standard rule will cause the retirement of more than 34 gigawatts of fossil fuel-fired electric generating capacity, the attorneys general went on to cite a NERA Economic Consulting study that projects the EPA’s proposed plan for existing plants will result in between 46 and 169 additional gigawatts of capacity being retired unless EPA makes significant corrections.

Specifically, the study projects coal-unit retirements of between 97 and 220 gigawatts, as compared to 51 gigawatts under a baseline scenario, the attorneys general said.

“Retirements on this scale are likely to seriously threaten the reliability of our nation’s electric supply,” they argued. “State regulators and industry stakeholders have warned that the proposal will force them to choose between meeting its requirements at the risk of potentially violating” Federal Energy Regulatory Commission reliability mandates, “or complying with those mandates at the risk of failure to comply with the proposal.”

The attorneys general also said that the plant retirements “are likely to impose significant costs on ordinary citizens throughout the country. The NERA study projects an increase in total consumer energy costs of between $366 billion and $479 billion over the period 2017-2031.”

The comments were submitted by attorneys general from the following states: West Virginia, Oklahoma, Nebraska, Alabama, Florida, Georgia, Indiana, Kansas, Louisiana, Michigan, Montana, North Dakota, Ohio, South Carolina, South Dakota, Utah and Wyoming.

WECC also weighs in

Meanwhile, the Western Electricity Coordinating Council (WECC) is recommending that the agency provide adequate time to identify reliability implications of proposed state compliance plans.

WECC on Nov. 25 posted its comments to EPA on WECC’s website. Since WECC does not operate, site, or own generation or transmission infrastructure, it has no direct economic interest in how states comply with the EPA’s proposed plan, it noted.

“However, the implementation plans that states will develop to comply with the proposed Clean Power Plan will drive BES changes that must be assessed to assure continued reliable operation of the Western Interconnection,” WECC went on to say.

WECC said that the EPA should allow at least 180 days following the filing of state compliance plans for the North American Electric Reliability Corporation (NERC), WECC, and other reliability entities to concurrently evaluate the potential reliability impacts of those plans.

The proposed plan “is complex and could have far-reaching and possibly unforeseen impacts. The success of a state’s compliance plan and the reliability” of the bulk electric system “are best served if the complying states and participating utilities, transmission planning regions, and other stakeholders are provided ample time for reliability analyses,” WECC said. This would provide additional time for evaluation of reliability implications, multi-state planning and infrastructure investments, the council said.

WECC also said that the EPA should create and communicate a process for reliability entities such as WECC to highlight reliability implications of any state compliance plan in the Western Interconnection.

“As the reliability assurer for the Western Interconnection, WECC requests that the EPA consider the range of [bulk electric system] reliability issues that may result from the implementation” of the proposed plan “and allow time for necessary studies and reliability assessments, state planning, and industry development processes.”

WECC recommended creating a process within the proposed plan that considers timing adjustments or the granting of extensions if there is a demonstrable reliability need identified. “Once states develop implementation plans, WECC will be able to consider additional analyses to understand the reliability impact on an interconnection-wide basis,” the council added.

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APPA Product Store offers updated energy efficiency publications for residential and small business customers

The American Public Power Association (APPA) has released new editions of its popular energy efficiency publications, Energy Matters for Your Home and Energy Matters for Your Small Business, which are now available in the APPA Product Store. Both publications provide actionable energy-saving and cost-saving tips, and are designed and priced for utilities to purchase in bulk and distribute to their customers.

Specifically, Energy Matters for Your Home shares energy-saving improvements for residential customers to make in all areas of their home and for every season. Tips are applicable to all homes, regardless of size or location. The book also explains how weatherization, lighting, heating and cooling, water heating and appliances affect energy usage and utility bills.

Energy Matters for Your Small Business is geared towards small business owners. It explains how energy efficiency contributes towards a healthy work environment for employees as well as a positive experience for the business’ customers. Readers will learn about the use of apps to control appliances, lighting, and HVAC equipment, as well as common ways to cut energy costs. The book also offers a ten-item checklist for saving energy and money immediately, and a resources section offers more specific measures for particular business types.

For more information or to purchase these publications, visit the APPA Product Store or email Products@PublicPower.org.