EPA Issues “Affordable Clean Energy” Proposal to Replace the Clean Power Plan

UPDATED 09.11.2018 The notice of public hearing was published in the Federal Register on September 10, 2018. The online registration form to speak at the public hearing is available here.

UPDATED 09.07.2018 The proposed rule was published in the Federal Register on August 31, 2018. Comments on the rule are due by October 31, 2018 and can be submitted here.

EPA will be holding a public hearing on the rule on October 1, 2018 in Chicago, Illinois. Registration to speak at the hearing ends September 25, 2018. The prepublication notice is available here.

On Tuesday, EPA issued the prepublication version of the Affordable Clean Energy (ACE) rule, its proposed replacement to the CPP.  The proposed rule establishes a new framework under which states will develop plans to address greenhouse gas emissions from existing coal-fired electric generating units (EGUs).  Compared to a no-CPP scenario, EPA projects that the ACE rule will reduce CO2 emissions in 2020 between 13 and 30 million short tons.  And EPA states that under some scenarios, avoided compliance costs total $6.4 billion compared to the CPP.

The proposed rule has four components.  First, EPA proposes to determine the “Best System of Emissions Reduction” (BSER) for existing EGUs based on measures that can be applied at an individual stationary source.  EPA states that this marks a departure from the CPP, which established the BSER “using measures that applied to the power sector as a whole, rather than measures that apply at . . . the level of[] individual facilities.”

Second, EPA proposes to define the BSER as heat-rate efficiency improvements that lower the CO2 emission rate of affected EGUs.  EPA explains that when an EGU improves its heat rate, it consumes less fuel and emits lower amounts of CO2 per kWh of electricity generated. EPA states that these heat-rate efficiency improvements will be achieved through the use of certain “candidate technologies,” equipment upgrades, and best operating and maintenance practices, which states may consider in establishing standards of performance for their EGUs.  These “candidate technologies” include:

  • Neural Network/Intelligent Sootblowers
  • Boiler Feed Pumps
  • Air Heater and Duct Leakage Control
  • Variable Frequency Drives
  • Blade Path Upgrade (Stem Turbine)
  • Redesign/Replace Economizer
  • Improved Operating and Maintenance Practices

The rule also proposes new implementing regulations under Clean Air Action Section 111(d) to give states more time to develop State Implementation Plans (SIPs).  The new rule provides states three years from the date of the final rule to prepare and submit its SIP.  EPA will then have twelve months to evaluate and determine whether the plan can be approved.  In the event that a state does not submit a plan or its plan is not approved, EPA has two years to develop a federal plan for that state. (The existing implementing regulations provided nine months for states to develop SIPs; four months for EPA to evaluate and act on the plans; and six months for EPA to issue a federal plan.)

Finally, EPA proposes a new preliminary applicability test for determining whether a physical or operational change made to an EGU is a “major modification” triggering EPA’s New Source Review (NSR).  Under the new rules, only projects that increase a plant’s hourly rate of pollutant emissions will undergo a full NSR analysis.  EPA states that this proposal will “give the owners/operators of EGUs more latitude to make the efficiency improvements that are consistent with EPA’s proposed BSER without triggering onerous and costly NSR permit requirements.”

The prepublication version of the proposed rule is available on EPA’s website, along with EPA’s press release and fact sheets.  Comments on the rule will be due 60 days after publication in the Federal Register.

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