EPA Plan Means Higher Prices, Grid Issues in Texas
Electricity prices in Texas will rise sharply and a chunk of coal power will be sidelined under the Environmental Protection Agency’s Clean Power Plan, the state’s grid operator says.
An analysis released Oct. 16 by the Electric Reliability Council of Texas foresees a 16 percent boost in energy costs for consumers by 2030 as a result of the EPA plan.
That number might be on the low side, ERCOT warned, because it does not consider charges that could stem from transmission upgrades or the costs involved in idling an estimated 4,000 megawatts of coal-based generation as soon as 2022.
“We continue to have concerns about the potential impacts on planning and operation of the ERCOT power grid,” said ERCOT CEO Trip Doggett. “Based on our analysis, we are especially concerned about reliability risks associated with multiple unit retirements within a short timeframe.
“As new technologies emerge and market conditions change, the grid is changing,” Doggett said. “Our market is designed to encourage new, more efficient technologies, but that change needs to occur at a pace that supports continued reliability.”
Finalized in August, the Clean Power Plan sets state-by-state targets for reducing carbon dioxide emissions from the power sector by 32 percent below 2005 levels by 2030.
Coal has been on the wane in Texas, producing about 25 percent of the state’s electricity in the frst quarter of 2015. The Clean Power Plan would force Texas to reduce carbon emissions by 33 percent reduction to 1,042 pounds of carbon dioxide per megawatt-hour by 2030.
That is less stringent than a draft proposal that EPA issued in 2014. But ERCOT said it still raises questions about the power grid in Texas, especially in connection with EPA’s proposed regional haze guidelines for the state.
The combined impacts of the regulations could push coal retirements to 4,700 MW, much of it by 2022.
ERCOT also said it will be challenged to integrate additional wind and solar energy into the grid—the two renewables could constitute more than a quarter of all generation by 2030.
“The retirement of a large portion of controllable generation capacity, combined with addition of a large amount of generation from intermittent solar and wind sources, could affect reliability of all generation resources as the system works together to maintain a balanced grid,” the grid manager cautioned.
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- On October 26, 2015