President Obama’s announcement today of stricter air pollution controls potentially could have an effect on Kansas City, Kan., customers of the Board of Public Utilities.
The President today announced the Clean Power Plan, which cuts carbon pollution 32 percent from 2005 levels by the year 2030, according to a statement from the Environmental Protection Agency.
The EPA stated that the plan will accelerate a transition to clean energy, which will in turn cut pollution and translate into significant health benefits for Americans. An EPA spokesman estimated that when implemented, the plan would result in helping Americans avoid up to 90,000 asthma attacks and result in up to 300,000 more days in the office and classroom, instead of being sick.
“We’re proud to finalize our historic Clean Power Plan. It will give our kids and grandkids the cleaner, safer future they deserve. The United States is leading by example today, showing the world that climate action is an incredible economic opportunity to build a stronger foundation for growth,” said EPA Administrator Gina McCarthy. “The valuable feedback we received means the final Clean Power Plan is more ambitious yet more achievable, so states can customize plans to achieve their goals in ways that make sense for their communities, businesses and utilities.”
The Clean Power Plan, if it goes forward, would be expected to speed up the efforts to reduce pollution among the nation’s power plants.
The BPU already has been working hard to comply with all the federal and state directives on air pollution, and has undergone several changes in the past several years, converting a coal-burning plant at the Quindaro Power Station from coal to natural gas, and buying a17 percent share in the Dogwood natural gas plant in 2012. It has put air quality control equipment on its power-generating stations. It has added the purchase of wind and other renewable energy sources to make up 22 percent of its portfolio of energy resources.
While some effect is expected upon Kansas City, Kan., customers and ratepayers, it is much too early to tell what the effect will be, according to BPU spokesman David Mehlhaff.
“It’s over 1,500 pages long, it’s going to be a long time until we review it to determine its impact to our community,” Mehlhaff said today about the plan.
The BPU will be looking at the document with its experts, its legal counsel and its trade association, he added.
It is too early to tell what effect the plan will have on Kansas City, Kan., he said. The proposed plan still has to go through several steps before it would become final.
Mehlhaff said he has had some inquiries from Kansas congressional offices today about the BPU’s position on it, and he’s said that so far, the BPU is still studying the issue, as it’s too early to know.
The plan has set limits for carbon emissions for each state. Then the states could decide in a plan how they want to achieve those numbers. A state’s plan could choose an across-the-board approach to reducing pollution, or could target specific plants.
BPU board member Jeff Bryant also said it was too early to know what the plan’s effect will be on the BPU, but it appears at first glance to be a very aggressive plan. He plans to start reading the plan tonight. The latest push was to do away with coal and use natural gas, he added.
“As far as I’m concerned, the BPU’s biggest concern has always been on reliability and keeping costs down as much as possible for our customers,” Bryant said.
As outlined by information on the EPA website, the proposed goal for Kansas would take the state from a 2012 rate of 2,319 pounds of carbon pollution per megawatt hour to 1,870 pounds per megawatt hour in 2020, to 1,654 pounds per megawatt hour in 2022-2024, to 1,485 pounds in 2025-2027, to 1,366 pounds in 2028-2029, and to 1,293 pounds in 2030 and beyond.
The plan also expresses alternate Kansas numbers in mass-based goals.
The plan already has some opposition from Republicans.
U.S. Sen. Pat Roberts, R-Kan., released this statement:
“Simply put, the Environmental Protection Agency’s final Clean Power Plan rule released today is worse than what President Obama initially proposed. This rule will drive up energy costs for families, farmers, and small businesses in Kansas and across the country at a time when the economy is still struggling to find its footing.
“While I support the development of affordable and reliable renewable energy, almost two-thirds of the electricity generated in Kansas comes from coal-fired power plants, and this rule potentially creates significant energy reliability concerns. By forcing states to transition to more expensive and less reliable forms of energy, this administration and the unelected regulators at EPA continue to make doing business in America less attractive.
“The EPA itself has stated that any unilateral action by the United States to reduce carbon emissions will have no impact on lowering global temperatures. As long as large developing countries like China, India, Russia and Brazil continue increasing their carbon emissions on an annual basis, which they are, anything we do will be inconsequential. This rule amounts to all pain and no gain. I am committed to working with my colleagues in the Senate to defend the ratepayers who are harmed the most by this federal overreach.”
The EPA’s final rules are part of the administration’s attempts to go around Congress and enact the president’s “Clean Power Plan” through executive order and executive action under the Clean Air Act, Sen. Roberts’ news release stated.
Estimates by the U.S. Chamber of Commerce have found that the original proposed regulations would cost 224,000 U.S. jobs on average every year through 2030, according to Sen. Roberts’ office. These regulations would also increase electricity costs by $289 billion and lower households’ disposable income by $586 billion through that same period, according to Sen. Roberts’ news release.
In May, Roberts cosponsored the Affordable Reliable Energy Now Act that prevents states from being forced to adopt EPA’s plans under the Clean Air Act that would negatively affect economic growth, competitiveness and jobs in the state; negatively affect the reliability of the state’s electricity system; or negatively affect the state’s electricity ratepayers, including low-income ratepayers, by causing electricity rate increases. The bill would also prevent the EPA from withholding highway funds from any states for noncompliance with the Clean Power Plan.
To see more information about the Clean Power Plan, visit www.epa.gov/.