Report: EPA regs will shut down 28 GW of energy production

posted at 3:30 pm on October 8, 2011 by Jazz Shaw

Last month we told you about energy plants in both Kentucky and Indiana which are facing the prospect of shutting down far ahead of schedule because of pending EPA regulations. These closures come at a tremendous cost which, as always, will be passed on to the consumer. We also noted that these were not isolated examples, and more of the same should be expected. Now a new report from the Institute for Energy Research has identified an alarming number of additional plants which face a similar fate. The total cost to the power grid is a staggering 28 gigawatts of production.

Currently, EPA is leading the Obama administration’s assault on coal with a number of new regulations. Two of the most important are the “transport rule” and the “toxics rule” (Utility MACT). Combined, these regulations will systematically reduce access to affordable and reliable energy. According to our report:

EPA Regulations Will Close At Least 28 GW of Generating Capacity

EPA modeling and power-plant operator announcements show that EPA regulations will close at least 28 gigawatts (GW) of American generating capacity, the equivalent of closing every power plant in the state of North Carolina or Indiana. Also, 28 GW is 8.9 percent of our total coal generating capacity.

Current Retirements Almost Twice As High As EPA Predicted

EPA’s power plant-level modeling projected that Agency regulations would close 14.5 GW of generating capacity. That number rises to 28 GW when including additional announced retirements related to EPA rules, almost twice the amount EPA projected. Moreover, this number will grow as plant operators continue to release their EPA compliance plans.

Announced and Projected Retirements Higher Than Worst Case Scenarios

Analysis by the North American Electric Reliability Corporation (NERC), the entity in charge of grid reliability, projected that EPA’s Transport Rule and Toxics Rule would close 20 GW of generating capacity. This list indicates that at least 28 GW will retire. EPA’s Transport Rule and Toxics Rule push U.S. energy security past the NERC worst case scenario.

Each closure represents less available energy which translates into higher utility bills for consumers, not to mention the possibility of new rolling blackouts during periods of high demand. This is above and beyond the costs incurred by producers to replace these plants where possible – costs which will also be passed on to you. Lest you think this is a problem mostly being faced by Texas, think again. Is your home state on this list?

  • Ohio: 2,894 MW retired, 8.6% of state total generating capacity.
  • West Virginia: 2,448 MW retired, 14% of state total generating capacity.
  • Indiana: 2,168 MW retired, 7.5% of state total generating capacity.
  • Tennessee: 1,376 MW retired, 6.2% of state total generating capacity.
  • Missouri: 1,325 MW retired, 6.3% of state total generating capacity.
  • Wisconsin: 902 MW retired, 5% of state total generating capacity.

The map included in the report contains targets all the way from Vermont to Washington State and from Wyoming to Louisiana. This is not a localized problem, but rather one which will affect nearly everyone in the country. And it’s beginning as soon as January of this coming year.

As I’ve pointed out before, it’s not like I’m a cheerleader for coal fired plants. They will eventually be largely closed down in favor of natural gas and other domestic energy sources which are currently available to us. But the process takes time and the industry needs to be able to do it on a schedule which doesn’t cripple them in terms of either production capacity or costs. When the government seeks to force an acceleration of this schedule for partisan purposes, the result is predictable. And you’re going to foot the bill for it.

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