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EPA publishes proposed greenhouse gas standard for new power plants

From the January 8, 2014 issue of Public Power Daily

Originally published January 8, 2014

By Robert Varela
Editorial Director
The Environmental Protection Agency’s reproposal of greenhouse gas standards for new power plants is scheduled to appear in today’s (Jan. 8) Federal Register, along with a notice withdrawing its April 13, 2012, proposed standard. Unlike the 2012 version, the new proposed rule sets separate standards for natural gas and coal-fired plants. EPA is expected to issue greenhouse gas standards for existing power plants later this year.

New coal-fired plants would be required to use capture and storage of a portion of their carbon emissions "as the best system of emission reduction" and would have to meet an emission limit of 1,100 pounds of CO2 per megawatt-hour, EPA said. Capture and storage of all of a plant's emissions would be too expensive, according to the agency. The proposed emission limits for natural gas-fired plants are 1,000 lb CO2/MWh for larger units and 1,100 lb CO2/MWh for smaller units. 

The rule would apply to electric generating units that sell more than one-third of their potential electric output to the grid. "Under this definition, most simple cycle ‘peaking’ stationary combustion turbines, which typically sell significantly less than one-third of their potential electric output to the grid, would not be affected by today’s proposal," EPA said.

EPA said that, since the utility industry is expected to choose to build natural gas combined-cycle units even in the absence of the standards, the proposed rule "will result in negligible CO2 emission changes, quantified benefits, and costs by 2022." EPA estimates that the carbon capture and storage requirement would cost between $80/MWh and $130/MWh.

Comments on the proposed rule are due 60 days after publication in the Federal Register. EPA will hold a public hearing on the proposal on Jan. 28 at its Washington headquarters. APPA plans to submit comments on the proposed rule and appear at the public hearing. The proposed rule is posted online


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Senior Vice President, Publishing 
Jeanne Wickline LaBella

Editorial Director
Robert Varela

Editor, Public Power Daily
Jeannine Anderson

Communications Assistant
Fallon W. Forbush

Manager, Integrated Media 
David L. Blaylock

Integrated Media Editor 
Laura D’Alessandro