Electric co-operatives have expressed concerns over President Obama’s Clean Power Plan which aims for a 32% cut, from 2005 levels, in greenhouse gas emissions from the USA’s electricity sector by 2030.
The co-ops fear the plan goes too far and too fast and will lead to an increase in electricity prices.
Following feedback, the Environmental Protection Agency pushed back the first round of reductions to 2022, instead of 2020.
Jo Ann Emerson, chief executive of the National Rural Electric Cooperatives Association (NRECA), explained: “Any increase in the cost of electricity most dramatically impacts those who can least afford it, and the fallout from the EPA’s rule will cascade across the nation for years to come.”
But EPA administrator Gina McCarthy said: “We’re finalising a plan that mirrors how electricity already moves around the grid. We’re setting fair, consistent standards across the country and we’re giving states and utilities the time and flexibility they need to adopt strategies that work for them.”
She added that the agency would set up a new fund to help states build renewable energy projects to ease the transition.
Ms Emerson responded: “While we appreciate the efforts intended to help offset the financial burden of rising electricity prices and jobs lost due to prematurely shuttered power plants, the final rule still appears to reflect the fundamental flaws of the original proposal.”
CPP is setting out targets for states but allows them to determine the best way to allocate reductions. Electric co-operatives serve more than 90% of the country’s poorest counties.
NRECA’s executive director for environmental issues, John Novak, said: “EPA’s proposal doesn’t provide a workable solution to address co-operatives’ unique circumstances.
“Should a state choose to reduce the burden on co-operatives, under EPA’s approach the state would need to increase the burden on other utility providers since the state still must meet the EPA’s goal.
“We are not asking for relief at the expense of others. The solution is for EPA to rework their assumptions and set reasonable and achievable state goals.”
He added that since 2009, electric co-ops had doubled their renewable energy capacity and made long-term investments in wind, solar and hydro energy production.
CPP is part of President Obama’s push to address climate change. On 7 July the administration also announced it would increase access to solar energy for US citizens, particularly low and moderate income communities. The administration has launched a National Community Solar partnership to unlock access to solar for nearly 50% of households and business that are renters or do not have adequate roof space to install solar systems.
In this article
- electricity sector
- Energy policy
- Environmental Protection Agency
- Gina McCarthy
- greenhouse gas emissions
- Jo Ann Emerson
- John Novak
- Low-carbon economy
- Renewable energy
- renewable energy capacity
- Solar energy
- North America
- United States
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