Posts filed under Reliability

EPA Outdoes Itself with Final Carbon Plan, Consumers Pay the Price

When it comes to bureaucratic overreach, the Environmental Protection Agency just took the proverbial cake when issuing its final rule regulating carbon dioxide emissions from power plants. In doing so, EPA usurped the authority of virtually every state in the nation, while unleashing both sky-high energy cost increases for consumers and irreversible damage to the reliability of America’s electric grid.

EPA’s final rule is the most expensive ever imposed on the electric power sector. According to analysis of the proposed rule conducted by NERA Economic Consulting, consumers will see double-digit electricity rate increases in 43 states if the plan is implemented. These increases will be particularly devastating for the 59 million low- and middle-income families who may be forced to choose to keep the lights on or food on the table.

How else does the final rule affect America?

  • The nation’s electricity grid will be jeopardized. Nearly 20 percent of the U.S. coal fleet is currently scheduled to retire, largely due to recent EPA policies. Once coal plants go offline, they cannot be brought back online to generate electricity during times of greatest demand. As a result, America’s grid, which is not prepared to operate on renewable energy sources, would require an estimated $2 trillion in upgrades by 2030.
  • Perhaps the biggest blow of all, EPA’s carbon regulations will have virtually no effect on its stated purpose: climate change. At best, the rule will reduce atmospheric CO2 concentrations by less than one-half of one percent, global average temperature by less than 2/100th of a degree and sea level rise by the thickness of three sheets of paper – all at a cost few can afford.

Because EPA deliberately misinterpreted the Clean Air Act, this illegal rule engendered the opposition of elected and environmental officials from 32 states and legal experts. In fact, President Obama’s former law professor, renowned constitutional law scholar Laurence Tribe, likened the regulation to “burning the Constitution.”


Mike Duncan, president and CEO of the American Coalition for Clean Coal Electricity, said it best today: “This rule fails across the board, but most troubling is that it fails the millions of families and businesses who rely on affordable electricity to help them keep food on the table and the lights on.”

We will continue to fight until this illegal takeover of America’s energy system is overturned by the courts. Stay tuned for updates on how America’s Power is making sure electricity remains affordable for all Americans.

America’s Real Moral Obligation: Protecting Our Most Vulnerable Communities

This column originally appeared in The Morning Consult on July 17, 2015.

The Environmental Protection Agency relies on a predictable playbook to bolster public support for its agenda. Using hyperbolic rhetoric to tug at Americans’ heartstrings, the agency routinely fails to disclose important considerations like costs and consequences. Case in point is a recent blog post by EPA Administrator Gina McCarthy calling on our “moral obligation” to support radical climate change initiatives like her agency’s proposed plan to regulate carbon emissions from power plants and efforts to limit fossil fuel development abroad. Not surprisingly, the blog post makes no mention of the negative impacts of these regulations.

While Administrator McCarthy is correct to assert America has a moral obligation to help struggling people around the globe, it is not in the way that she calls for it. Our real moral obligation is to protect vulnerable communities, including hard-working families, businesses and our economy, from EPA’s proposed plan. Overreaching environmental policies, like those her agency is pursuing as part of President Obama’s Climate Action Plan, will lead to a decrease in affordable electricity, adding up to economic hardships for our nation’s most vulnerable communities and for billions of people around the globe.

The climate policies Administrator McCarthy claims we have a moral obligation to support will phase out electricity from fossil fuels, including coal. Considering the fact that coal-based generation alone accounts for nearly 40 percent of our electricity supply in the United States and nearly 41 percent around the world, the costs and consequences are substantial.

American households, particularly those of vulnerable groups like minorities and the elderly, face rising electricity costs and are spending a substantial portion of their incomes just to keep the power on. These households already struggling to make ends meet will see these costs piled on top of the 17 percent of their take-home pay they already spend on energy needs.

Energy poverty is arguably one of the most significant human crises we face. In fact, it is estimated that one in seven people globally lack adequate access to electricity. Far too many families go without the electricity required for basic needs like clean water, safe heating and cooking, and medical equipment. By working to limit fossil fuel use abroad, EPA will prevent developing nations from experiencing the benefits that accompany low-cost, reliable electricity including economic development, the adaption of new technologies and advanced health care.

The climate movement is grasping at straws by attempting to supplant fossil fuels with costlier, less reliable fuel sources like wind and solar. Simply put, these resources cannot replace affordable, dependable fuel sources like coal. Renewables aren’t able to provide around-the-clock power generation because the sun doesn’t always shine and the wind doesn’t always blow. Likewise, EPA and its allies like to ignore the fossil fuel industry’s tremendous advancements in championing clean energy technologies, which are reducing emissions and ensuring these abundant resources can meet ever-growing energy demand in a cleaner and more efficient manner than ever before.

It appears Administrator McCarthy has no intention of scaling back her agency’s climate change initiatives, which are nothing more than a last-ditch legacy-building effort for President Obama. Our real moral obligation is protecting our own community and the communities that need our help most urgently from the serious threats these regulations pose domestically and internationally. To fulfill this moral obligation, we must stand united in fighting EPA’s dangerous agenda.

Sharing Your Story on Affordable Power

In America, affordable power has many different meanings. For our nation as a whole, it means continued economic growth by allowing our factories and businesses to reinvest in operations and create new job opportunities. For the American people, affordable power means more room in household budgets, allowing us to reinvest in our lives and create better opportunities for our families.

Everyone has a story about the role affordable power plays in fueling each and every day. With upcoming regulations from the Environmental Protection Agency threatening America’s access to affordable electricity, it’s time these stories were told.

By visiting, you can join the movement to protect low-cost electricity by explaining what affordable power means to you. We’ve already heard from hundreds of supporters from across the country. For some, affordable energy means more food on the dinner table each night. For others, it means more money to save for a college education or a much needed family vacation.

Share Your Story

Our partners Regan Smith, Dale Earnhardt, Jr., and Kelley Earnhardt Miller have even shared their own stories about the role affordable power from coal has played in their family history and lives as small business owners.

The fact of the matter is, money matters and Americans would rather spend it on improving their lives – not on unnecessarily high power bills. By raising your voice about the importance of low-cost electricity from coal, you can help keep your extra dollars right where you want and where they are most needed.

Join the movement and share what affordable power means to you by visiting our site. You may see your story featured on our Facebook page in the near future.

FERC Conferences Underscore Mounting Concerns with EPA’s Clean Power Plan

As the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission wraps up the final of three regional technical conferences today in St. Louis, Missouri we thought it would be interesting to take a look at what others have said at previous conferences.

I don’t think you’ll be surprised that cost and reliability are chief among the growing chorus of concerns coming from experts and stakeholders in the states.

  • In February, at the FERC regional conference in Denver, Michael Hummel of Arizona’s Salt River Project testified that, “the Clean Power Plan as currently drafted will have a disproportionate impact on Arizona and threatens our ability to reliably maintain the electric grid.”
  • The next month in Washington, D.C., Jeff Burleson, Vice President of System Planning of Southern Company, warned that the CPP, “unlike past environmental requirements… is a major overhaul of the electric system that will potentially put serious reliability and operational pressures on the grid.”
  • Ross Eisenberg of the National Association of Manufacturers told FERC, “[the CPP] and its massive redesign of the energy system threatens secure, affordable supply of energy.”
  • National power groups have also implored FERC to play an active role in fixing EPA’s flawed proposal. In Washington, D.C., Jay Morrison, vice president for regulatory affairs at the National Rural Electric Cooperative urged FERC, “Please do not be a potted plan in this instance.  Please be very active.”

Regulators and energy industry experts will likely echo these concerns before FERC in St. Louis.  As this is the final FERC technical conference, we hope all parties are listening closely and are prepared to take appropriate action by withdrawing the CPP.


What do Indiana, Wisconsin and Wyoming have in Common? They Oppose EPA’s Overreach

Officials from Indiana, Wisconsin and Wyoming are on Capitol Hill today to testify about the consequences of the Environmental Protection Agency’s Clean Power Plan.

While we don’t know what these officials will say, we know from previous comments that they are united in their opposition to the CPP and share many of the same concerns:

Last September, Tom Easterly, commissioner of the Indiana Department of Environmental Management, shared his concerns with the House Committee on Energy and Commerce, saying “Hoosiers know that coal means jobs and coal means low-cost energy […] In examining how the proposed 111(d) regulations further our mission, I have come to the conclusion that the proposal will cause significant harm to Hoosiers and most residents of the U.S.”

Ellen Nowak, commissioner with the Wisconsin Public Service Commission says when it comes to EPA’s CPP – projected to cost the state of Wisconsin between $3 billion and $13 billion – she “wouldn’t put that in the ‘reasonable’ category.”

Todd Parfitt, director of the Wyoming Department of Environmental Quality, said in the Department’s comments that “WDEQ’s review finds that the Proposed Rule is fundamentally flawed and should be withdrawn principally because EPA lacks statutory authority to proceed with this rulemaking.”

We’ll certainly hear more of these concerns today and in the coming weeks. When we do, it’s important to remember these three states have more in common than their participation in this morning’s hearing. Coal-based power supports job creation, economic growth and low-cost electricity in each of these states. EPA’s proposal seeks to diminish the use of affordable, reliable electricity from coal and place the costly consequences squarely on the shoulders of consumers in Indiana, Wisconsin, Wyoming and every other state in the nation.


The Morning Consult: EPA’s Clean Power Plan Threatens to Turn the Lights Out on America

This column originally appeared in The Morning Consult on March 3, 2015.

The Washington Post profiled Sharon Garcia, a single mom from Pueblo, Colorado, last year who suffers from a state policy that shuttered coal plants in favor of costlier, less reliable fuel sources. Ms. Garcia and her family – emblematic of so many other U.S. families – are forced to live in darkness at times, just to conserve energy so as not to face yet another sky-high electricity bill.

As of last July, the Environmental Protection Agency’s power plant regulations have led to the announced retirement or conversion of more than 350 coal-fueled generating units throughout the country. Now, EPA’s most disastrous, not to mention costliest, regulatory measure yet – the Clean Power Plan – threatens to shut down even more of our nation’s coal-based power plants, limiting our supply of affordable electricity and severely impacting the reliability of our electric grid.

EPA wants to supplant coal with resources like natural gas, which poses significant transport issues and price volatility concerns, as well as more renewable resources that are nowhere near “mission ready.” To transform our nation’s power delivery system to fully utilize these unpredictable fuel sources will be a massive, time-consuming and expensive undertaking, projected to cost more than $1 trillion. In the short-term, American consumers will suffer the immediate consequences of power outages and forced electricity conservation.

In its primer on the Clean Power Plan, EPA claims the measure “provides enough time for utilities to make changes without affecting reliability.” EPA Administrator McCarthy also alleges that “EPA is not going to threaten energy reliability.” Electric grid operators, state officials and energy industry experts, however, paint a very different picture of the plan’s impact on electric reliability.

The Southwest Power Pool was among the first grid operators to release a study detailing major concerns with EPA’s proposed regulations, warning of “voltage collapse and blackout conditions” if the plan proceeds as scheduled. The Electric Reliability Council of Texas, the main grid operator serving 23 million Texans, also issued an analysis of the proposal, which found EPA’s proposal could result in “transmission reliability issues due to the loss of fossil fuel-fired generation resources in and around major urban centers.”

Seventeen former and current public utility and public service commissioners – officials that, unlike EPA, possess substantial knowledge about electricity generation – also joined the chorus of alarmed experts, stating that “Our concern with the EPA’s proposed carbon rules is that they fail to adequately forecast the serious economic and reliability impacts of dramatically reduced or even elimination of coal-fired generation.”

The Electric Reliability Coordinating Council summarized it best in a recent paper, saying “Unfortunately, preliminary analyses released by qualified experts point to one inescapable conclusion: EPA’s proposal puts the reliability of our nation’s electricity supply at risk.”

As a nation, we should be pursuing a smart “all of the above” energy strategy that allows us to protect our environment and harness cleaner energy, but that doesn’t undermine energy reliability in the process. EPA’s dangerous plan must be stopped, before Americans are left without the low-cost, dependable power we need, when we need it the most.


Will EPA Ignore FERC Again?

Independent grid operators, elected officials and public utility commissioners have all raised concerns about the potential for power outages if states are forced to comply with the Environmental Protection Agency’s costly and overreaching Clean Power Plan.

Thus far, and not surprisingly, EPA has turned a deaf ear. They do, after all, have a habit of listening only to those whose opinions with which they are comfortable.


At the request of congressional leaders, the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission—the agency charged with protecting the reliability of our nation’s energy generation and supply system—will host a series of technical conferences weighing the impact of compliance with EPA’s proposal on the electric grid. The conferences kick off today in Washington, D.C.

You would think, as EPA’s Clean Power Plan is more akin to a national energy policy (the job of Congress) than it is to a plan to protect public health (EPA’s actual job), that FERC would be heavily involved with the planning and crafting of the proposal. Not so, according to FERC Commissioner Tony Clark. In a letter to the House Energy and Commerce Committee, Clark wrote, “With regard to FERC staff generally, I believe it unreasonable to conclude that FERC meaningfully or substantially participated in the [Clean Power] plan’s development.” 

EPA has shown little regard for reliability concerns in the past and likely fears that FERC’s direct involvement may interfere with the agency’s knack for employing fuzzy math to underestimate the impacts of its regulations.

While finalizing the Mercury Air and Toxic Standards, EPA claimed that MATS (along with the Cross-State Air Pollution Rule, which was later remanded back to EPA) would cause 9,500 megawatts of coal unit retirements. In contrast, utilities have announced the retirement of 389 coal units—more than 61,000 MW and almost 20 percent of the U.S. coal fleet—as a result of EPA policies. 50,000 MW can be directly attributed to MATS.  You read that right. EPA’s projection for coal retirements due to MATS/CSAPR was only 1/5th the number of actual retirements caused by MATS.

During last year’s “polar vortex,” major utility companies like American Electric Power had to run 89 percent of its soon-to-be-retired coal capacity just to meet demand and avoid cascading power outages. Shortly thereafter, FERC Commissioner Philip Moeller issued a wake-up call before the Senate Committee on Energy and Natural Resources, stating, “I was, and remain concerned that EPA’s analysis greatly underestimated the amount of power production that would be retired due to these rules.” Moeller continued, “The experience of this winter strongly suggests that parts of the nation’s bulk power system are in a more precarious situation than I had feared in the past.”

According to EPA’s own projections, the Clean Power Plan will cause significantly more coal retirements than what the agency projected for MATS. An analysis conducted by NERA Economic Consulting projected that at least 45,000 MW more would be forced to retire. That is greater than the entire electricity supply of New England.

It’s no wonder that in Kansas last week, FERC Commissioner Clark, a former legislator and utility regulator in North Dakota, said complying with EPA’s mandate is a “huge decision to make,” and “a little bit like the Affordable Care Act…play ball, and potentially get caught up in it in a way that you may regret later on.”

We’ve already seen the impact of EPA’s regulations on our supply of reliable electricity. Will EPA listen to the experts this time around?


Regulators, Legislators and Energy Industry Experts Agree: EPA’s Carbon Plan is Unworkable

Public service and utility commissioners from across the country are in Washington, D.C. this week to attend the National Association of Regulatory Utility Commissioners Winter Meeting. Without question, the Environmental Protection Agency’s Clean Power Plan will be a central topic of discussion as its chief proponent, Administrator McCarthy, will be on hand to tout her usual misleading claims.

Ms. McCarthy’s audience at NARUC, however, may not be inclined to swallow her claims of lower energy bills and a stable grid, hook, line and sinker as her Clean Power Plan is being met with growing concern and criticism. Legislators, regulators and energy industry leaders alike are pointing out major flaws in EPA’s proposal. Today, we’re taking a look at what experts are saying about three core tenets of the CPP: reliability impacts, cost increases and unrealistic assumptions.

Regardless of what Ms. McCarthy may say, here are two facts she can’t escape:

  1. EPA’s plan jeopardizes the reliability of our electric grid.
  1. EPA failed to consult the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission, the federal regulatory body in charge of monitoring America’s electric grid.

Don’t take my word for it though – let’s hear directly from the experts:

“SPP’s transmission system impact evaluation indicates serious, detrimental impacts on the reliable operation of the bulk electric system in the SPP region, introducing the very real possibility of rolling blackouts or cascading outages that will have significant impacts on human health, public safety and economic activity within the region.” – Southwest Power Pool

“The weather events experienced this [2014] winter provided an early warning about serious issues with electric supply and reliability. This country did not just dodge a bullet – we dodged a cannonball.” – Nick Akins, AEP

“I believe it unreasonable to conclude that FERC meaningfully or substantially participated in the [Clean Power Plan’s] development.” – Tony Clark, FERC Commissioner

Here’s another inescapable fact: The CPP will result in significant electricity price increases across the board.

“We must realize that utility rates are not within the jurisdiction of EPA.” – Lisa Edgar, NARUC President and Florida Public Service Commissioner

“Plant retirements are higher than projected. Electricity prices are rising. Even factors beyond our control – such as last winter’s [2014] weather – are on a collision course with the shutdowns caused in part by new federal regulations.” – Senator Lisa Murkowski (R-AK)

And, yet another: EPA has created a flawed and unworkable rule based on unrealistic assumptions.

EPA has set mandatory emissions reductions “with no analysis by EPA as to whether that actually makes sense or is economically reasonable for each state.” – Robert J. Martineau, Tennessee Department of Environment and Conservation Commissioner

“NCDENR believes EPA’s proposed rule … is legally and technically flawed… In defining a specific rate for each state and then mandating each state meet that predetermined rate, EPA runs counter to the U.S. Constitution.” – John E. Skvarla, North Carolina Department of Environment and Natural Resources Secretary

“The proposal assumes that Arizona can completely be off coal in 2020. The fact is that it gets hot in Arizona and there are periods in the summer in which we are utilizing every possible source of electricity, from natural gas to nuclear and coal.” – Henry Darwin, Arizona Department of Environmental Quality Director

To learn more about the impacts of EPA’s regulations, visit today and get the facts.