Utilities Ask Court to Reinstate Obama’s Clean Power Plan

A few of the solar panels at Excelon's City Solar installation in Chicago, the largest urban solar far when it began generating in April 2012. (Photo by Josh Mogerman)


NEW YORK, New York, September 16, 2019 (ENS) – A coalition of public and private electric utilities have filed a petition in the District of Columbia Circuit Court of Appeals to challenge the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency’s new Affordable Clean Energy Rule and the repeal of the Clean Power Plan.

The Clean Power Plan was an Obama administration policy aimed at combating human-caused climate change that was first proposed by the EPA in June 2014. The final version of the plan was unveiled by President Barack Obama on August 3, 2015

The Power Companies Climate Coalition, which filed the petition, consists of nine companies: Consolidated Edison, Inc., c, Los Angeles Department of Water & Power, National Grid USA, New York Power Authority, Pacific Gas and Electric Company, Public Service Enterprise Group Incorporated, Sacramento Municipal Utility District, and Seattle City Light.

A few of the solar panels at Excelon’s City Solar installation in Chicago, the largest urban solar farm when it began generating in April 2012. (Photo by Josh Mogerman)

With operations spanning 49 states and the District of Columbia, the coalition members collectively serve over 23 million customer accounts, estimated at over 50 million people, and own or operate over 84,000 megawatts of generating capacity from a diverse set of resources, including coal, oil, natural gas, nuclear, wind, and solar.

The Power Companies Climate Coalition said in a September 6 statement that they are “… challenging EPA’s decision because it is premised upon the erroneous conclusion that the Clean Air Act commands that the best system of emission reduction must be limited to only those measures that can be applied at or to an existing source.”

The coalition said this interpretation “…excludes measures that EPA has historically allowed the power sector to use to reduce its emissions more cost effectively under both prior Republican and Democratic administrations, such as emissions trading, averaging, and increasing generation from lower-emitting sources.”

“Due to the interconnected nature of the electricity grid, the power sector is uniquely suited to utilization of such measures and EPA’s elimination of them from consideration will only result in fewer reductions at higher costs to the industry and customers,” the coalition said.

Con Edison said in a statement today that the company has taken this legal action because it believes that the EPA’s rollback of the Clean Power Plan is the wrong approach to combatting climate change, and will undermine the company’s own efforts to achieve meaningful reductions in greenhouse gas emissions.

A Con Edison worker near solar panels atop a high school in Brooklyn, New York, Feb. 2018 (Photo courtesy Con Edison)

To reduce its greenhouse gas emissions, Con Edison already has made “significant investments” in renewable energy; has promoted utility-owned renewable generation; has undertaken offshore wind initiatives; and has built infrastructure and put incentives in place to support electric vehicle adoption.

In addition, Con Edison offers clean heating alternatives; innovative battery storage and energy efficiency programs; renewable gas, natural gas efficiency programs and methane emission reductions; and finally has put in place “customer-friendly policies” for residential solar generation.

Con Edison is the second-largest solar provider in North America, with 2,600 MW of renewable solar and wind assets in 17 states.

Since 2013, solar adoption by Con Edison customers has “increased exponentially,” the utility said. Currently, about 28,000 Con Edison and 8,000 Orange & Rockland customers generate more than 375 megawatts of electricity with more than 250 MW of solar generation in development.

Con Edison says its policies and assets avoid 5.4 million tons of carbon dioxide emissions annually. To achieve additional savings in New York, Con Edison is seeking permission to develop, own, and operate renewable energy projects for customers.

In Los Angeles on September 10, the Los Angeles Department of Water & Power Board of Commission unanimously voted to approve power purchase agreements for the Eland Solar and Storage Center, the largest solar and battery energy storage system in the United States. The site in Kern County, California will hold enough energy to power 283,330 homes across Los Angeles.

“The climate crisis has never been more dire, but the solutions have never been clearer or cheaper – and Los Angeles is investing in renewable energy and cleaning our air as part of my DWP reform agenda,” said Los Angeles Mayor Eric Garcetti. “The Eland Solar and Storage Center will help us keep the lights on without the help of dirty fossil fuels – even when the sun isn’t shining – and power our progress toward a low-carbon, green-energy future.”

The development of the Eland Solar and Storage Center is a direct result of the zero-carbon vision laid out in Mayor Garcetti’s Green New Deal. It is expected to play a key role in helping Los Angeles reach 55 percent renewable energy by 2025, 80 percent renewable energy by 2036, and 100 percent renewable energy by 2045.

In a statement that accompanied the September 6 petition filing, the Power Companies Climate Coalition, citing higher costs to both customers and industry, argued the new rule prohibits the power sector from using the more effective emission reduction measures, such as emissions trading, that it has historically used.

Copyright Environment News Service (ENS) 2019. All rights reserved.


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