US Senators Say Yes to Clean Power

Joanna Schroeder

A group of U.S. Senators have come out in support of EPA’s Clean Power Plan. The group submitted a letter to Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) Administrator Gina McCarthy stating that while the emission reduction goals are admiral, they believe that with modest EPA Clean Power Planchanges to reflect real-world market and technological conditions, the plan can be more effective as well as better aligned with state power plans.

Citing Best System of Emission Reduction that requires that an emissions limitation technology be “adequately demonstrated” and also taking into consideration costs and non-air quality health and environmental impact, the Senators offer several tangible suggestions for improvement with the recommendation of using the Alternative Renewable Energy Approach methodology as outlined in the EPA proposal with the following changes:

  • Recognizing the regional nature of the electricity system. State targets should reflect regional renewable energy generation and use alternative methodology to estimate regional technical potentials constrained by costs and grid integration limitations and then equitably set state targets that align with its Renewable Portfolio Standards.
  • Remove the benchmark deployment rate as a constraint on the target. The EPA should set targets based on the Integrated Planning Model (they do not do this now). The model can calculate renewable energy development potential by evaluating the technical potential, costs and grid conditions in each state.
  • Use current data to evaluate resource potential. The Senators cite the use of outdated data in the proposal and stress the need to use current renewable energy data that reflects today’s market conditions and recent technological developments.
  • Include distributed generation technologies in calculating state targets. Distributed generation was not included in EPA’s proposal and the Senators stress the need for this energy category to be included.

In addition, the senators also recommend considering all efficiency measures that have been adequately demonstrated in the marketplace; adopt a consistent approach in which any state that implements energy efficiency measures will receive full credit for such measures; and emissions reduction from displaced fossil fuels through the deployment of renewable energy and efficiency should be accurately captured in emissions reduction targets for states.

Rhone Resch, president and CEO of the Solar Energy Industries Association (SEIA) commented on the Senator’s suggested changed to the Clean Power Plan.

“As an organization – and as an industry – we are very encouraged that so many Senators have signaled their enthusiastic support for the EPA’s Clean Power Plan. As the fastest-growing source of renewable energy in America, solar contributes in a significant way to a balanced energy portfolio. In fact, in the third quarter of this year alone, the United States installed 1,354 megawatts (MW) of solar photovoltaics (PV), up 41 percent over the same period last year. Moving forward, we believe solar can be a real game changer for states trying to meet their requirements under the Clean Power Plan, and we stand ready to help.”

Clean Energy, Distributed generation, EPA