If the “job-killing EPA regs” and “Obama overreach” soundbites seems to echo the political script from the Obamacare battle, there are some key differences. For starters, Republican-controlled states won’t have the ability to opt out of the system, as many have with the Affordable Care Act’s extension of Medicaid. If a state fails to submit a plan for lowering emissions from its power plants, the EPA has the authority to impose one—a scenario most states will choose to avoid.
More importantly, corporate opposition to the new rules isn’t as unanimous as it may appear. Several major electric utilities —including Dynergy, American Electric Power, and First Energy — have expressed cautious optimism about being able to thrive within the new regulations. Electricity generation is a capital-intensive industry that works on planning horizons of 30 to 50 years, and the utilities would prefer certainty and clarity as opposed to the policy purgatory they’ve been in the for the last decade.