N.Y. adopts final rule aimed at reducing peaking plant emissions

The New York State Department of Environmental Conservation in late December adopted a final rule that places new, stringent requirements on peaking power plants.

The measure substantially reduces emissions from peaking plants that operate on the hottest days of the year.

The rule establishes lower thresholds for emissions of nitrogen oxides (NOx), which contribute to harmful levels of ozone on hot summer days. 

“Dozens of simple cycle and regenerative combustion turbines at power plants across the state—many approaching 50 years old and operating infrequently—emit NOx at levels that are at least 30 times more than emissions from newer turbines,” New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo’s office said in a news release.

However, when the peaking power plant turbines are operating, collectively they can account for more than a third of New York's daily power plant NOx emissions while producing less electricity for consumers than cleaner sources.  

Citing the need for electric grid reliability, the regulation phases in the control requirements from 2023 to 2025, allowing time for a transition to cleaner sources of electricity.

It also provides the power plant owners the option to meet the new standards in part through the installation of renewable energy or energy storage. Storage can reduce the operation of these intermittently used power sources by dispatching energy when and where it is most needed and reducing NOx emissions when air quality could be compromised, Cuomo’s office said.

Transitioning away from the peak-use power plants is an important component of achieving Cuomo's Green New Deal, the governor’s office said.

The regulation is available here.