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More time is needed to implement EPA Clean Power Plan

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World Coal,

The current timeframe for implementing the US Environmental Protection Agency’s Clean Power Plan (CPP) may threaten the reliability of electricity supply, according to a new assessment of the CPP by the North American Electric Reliability Corp. (NERC).

“The bulk power system is undergoing a fundamental transformation toward increasing dependency on natural gas, wind and solar resources,” said Garry Cauley, president and CEO of NERC. “The CPP substantially accelerates this shift and proposes a very different mix of power resources than we have today.”

The CPP seeks to reduce CO2 emissions from power plants by 30% below 2005 levels by 2030. It calls for states to begin submitting implementation plans by June 30 2016 and for regional implementation plans by June 2018.

Under NERC’s long-term projections, power plants retirements and limited capacity additions are already contributing to diminished reserve margins in New York, the Midwest and Texas. The additional impact of the CPP could see 69.8 GW of coal-fired generational capacity beyond NERC’s reference case projections taken offline by 2020, under EPA assumptions.

“EPA’s estimated generation retirements may be conservative, if the assumptions incorporated into the building blocks of the CPP prove to be unachievable,” said Thomas Burgess, vice president and director of reliability assessment and performance assessment at NERC. “Some areas may require significant infrastructure enhancements and industry may require additional time to ensure reliability.”

NERC plans an additional three assessments as the CPP is finalised and implemented. NERC assessments are independent of policy position and do not recommend a specific compliance approach, the organisation said in a press release: “rather [they provide] stakeholders with an independent assessment of reliability while serving as a platform to inform policy discussions on the reliability impacts concerning the proposed plan.”

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