As a nine-state generation and transmission provider, Basin Electric Power Cooperative finds itself in a unique, if not tight spot, under the Environmental Protection Agency’s proposal to slash carbon dioxide emissions from existing power plants.
Basin Electric believes, as does NRECA, that EPA should withdraw its proposed Clean Power Plan targeting fossil fuel generation.But the Bismarck, N.D.-based G&T has ideas to make it work.
Barring that, before EPA finalizes the controversial rule this summer, Basin Electric said the agency should allow company-based, multistate plans for carbon dioxide reductions.
That would allow the averaging of emissions across all facilities of a utility, as opposed to demanding that states meet a carbon dioxide budget through electric generating units within their borders, the G&T said.
“Because we have such a significant regional footprint, a state-by-state solution is very complicated,” said Elizabeth Gore, policy director at the law firm Brownstein Hyatt Farber Schreck. Gore appeared on behalf of Basin Electric at a Jan. 29 forum in Washington, D.C., hosted by the Bipartisan Policy Center.
“We have built our facilities as a system, we operate our facilities as a system and this would allow us to comply as a system.”
For example, North Dakota, which has coal generation, natural gas plants and wind power, would consider all of Basin’s facilities in the state and determine whether the cooperative meets the carbon dioxide limit set by EPA, she said.
Should Basin Electric overperform in North Dakota, the co-op could then allocate some wind megawatts to a state in which it operates that exceeds EPA’s emissions limits.
“Now, under this proposal, we meet the state targets, we meet the overall environmental targets and we can still operate as a system,” Gore said.
Basin Electric also owns and operates the nation’s only commercial-scale coal gasification plant. Dakota Gasification Co.’s Great Plains Synfuels Plant, near Beulah, N.D., has sequestered nearly 30 million tons of carbon dioxide. The EPA rule would not recognize its contribution.
“It’s an industrial facility, but it is part of our corporate umbrella,” said Gore. “We need to clarify [the rule] to make sure we get credit for lowering the carbon dioxide footprint of our organization.”
Basin Electric generates more than 5,000 megawatts of power across Wyoming, Montana, North Dakota, South Dakota, and Iowa to serve 138 distribution co-ops that sell power in nine states to 2.8 million consumers.
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- On February 11, 2015