A federal proposal to reduce carbon emissions from power plants nationwide is unachievable in Ohio and would unfairly raise electricity rates for consumers, the state Environmental Protection Agency and Public Utilities Commission of Ohio said yesterday.
In comments sent to the U.S. EPA about itsplan to cut mercury and greenhouse-gas emissions, both state agencies said the plan would not work in Ohio. Yesterday was the last day to submit comments on the federal plan.
The PUCO “has serious concerns about its impact on the delivery of reliable and affordable power to Ohioans,” Matt Schilling, a commission spokesman, said in a statement. “Our comments to the U.S. EPA highlight numerous concerns, including billions of dollars of added costs to Ohio’s utility ratepayers.”
The commission said that changing priorities from the economic — how cheaply electricity can be distributed — to the environmental — the growing threat of climate change — could increase wholesale electricity prices in Ohio by 39 percent. The commission estimated that would cost Ohio’s power consumers $2.5 billion in 2025.
In June, U.S. EPA director Gina McCarthy announced a federal proposal that some say is the most sweeping plan to address emissions that affect climate change. The plan would cut carbon emissions from power plants by 30 percent from 2005 levels within 16 years.
Target reductions vary across the country; in Ohio, the proposed federal goal would cut carbon emissions by 28 percent from 2005 levels. At the time of the announcement, Ohio’s power plants already had cut their greenhouse-gas emissions by 16.5 percent from 2005 levels, the U.S. Energy Information Administration said.
The plan prompted lawsuits by Ohio and other states that rely heavily on coal. Ohio burned more coal than all but five other states last year, and it routinely leads the country in power-plant emissions.
The U.S. EPA is set to finalize the rule next year.
The Ohio EPA, in its comments on the plan, said the targets are unachievable in Ohio, where companies that operate coal-fired power plants already have installed advanced air-pollution controls.
The Ohio EPA warned that Ohio’s power grid could become unreliable if the rule were approved as proposed.
But the Ohio Environmental Council, which submitted comments to the U.S. EPA in favor of the plan, said Ohio’s targets should be easy to achieve.
“All that’s required by Ohio is to reduce the carbon emissions by a certain amount; how we get there is up to the state,” said Brennan Howell, director of clean energy and climate campaigns for the council, an environmental advocacy group.
“Ohio can do more with renewable energy than the U.S. EPA projection. Ohio can do more with energy efficiency than the U.S. EPA projection. … I think we’ve got the tools to get it done in a way that protects human health and economic opportunity.”
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- On December 2, 2014