A Clean (and affordable) Power Plan
You’ve perhaps heard or read in the news about the Clean Air Act (CAA) and the Environmental Protection Agency’s (EPA) concern over greenhouse gas emissions from electric power generation facilities. Along with this information, you’ve also perhaps heard both sides of the story: theirs and ours. Both sides have valid points, but where government is mainly concerned on a national level, we are also concerned on a local level and have worked hard to voice our concerns relating to future energy costs.
In 2009, EPA determined that greenhouse gas pollution threatens Americans’ health and welfare by leading to long-lasting changes in our climate. They further claimed that these climate changes can have a range of negative effects on human health and the environment.
According to studies by the EPA, carbon dioxide (CO2) is the primary greenhouse gas pollutant, accounting for nearly three-quarters of global greenhouse gas emissions and 84% of U.S. greenhouse gas emissions.
Their statistics showed that the electric power sector accounted for 32% of U.S. total greenhouse gas emissions in 2012. They go on to say that greenhouse gas emissions from electricity have increased by about 11% since 1990 as electricity demand has grown and fossil fuels have remained the dominant source for electric generation.
According to EPA, fossil fuel-fired power plants are the largest source of U.S. CO2 emissions. At these fossil fuel-fired power plants, resources such as natural gas, petroleum, coal or any form of solid, liquid or gaseous fuel derived from such materials are used to generate electricity.
The Tennessee Valley Authority (TVA) is already working to meet future demands for power in new and innovative ways as they consider costs, environmental factors, reliability, regulations and energy efficiency.
Coal-fired plants have formed the backbone of TVA’s power generation since the 1950s. In keeping with commitments to generate safe, clean energy, TVA is now beginning to retire older, less efficient coal-fired plants and replacing them with low- or zero-emission electricity sources which include nuclear and renewable resources while also offering enhanced energy efficiency programs to help customers save energy and money.
TVA’s plans also address peaks in winter and summer months. In the past, TVA used additional coal generation to bridge the gap in energy supply and demand across the Valley. Today they are adding more clean-burning natural gas units to meet peak demands.
To generate more bulk power, TVA is also adding the 21st century’s first new nuclear unit. As for renewables, they continue to offer programs that allow Valley-based businesses and consumers to partner with local power distributors to generate solar, wind and biogas energy.
Like with most power generation facilities, TVA’s emphasis is on moving away from traditional coal-based production and toward cleaner forms of power generation to set higher standards for clean - and affordable - energy supplies to care for the environment and to meet federal regulations.
Earlier this year, the U.S. Supreme Court stayed on the implementation of the federal government’s Clean Power Plan pending judicial review. At this time, the final outcome of the Clean Power Plan is yet to be determined while the lower court works out the lawsuit challenging the carbon culling regulation. For those states that choose to continue working to cut carbon pollution from power plants and seek the agency’s guidance and assistance, EPA will continue to provide tools and support.
Tennessee electric company leaders work closely with state legislators to do what is right for electric rate payers in our hometowns and across our state, and together, we have a voice on the federal level relating to emissions reduction legislation. As a whole, the Tennessee Electric Cooperative Association, which includes rural power distributors like FPU, was pleased with the Supreme Court’s decision to halt implementation of the EPA’s Clean Power Plan.
We continue to believe that low rates and reliable power must be a part of our clean energy future. This decision opens the door to find real solutions that effectively balance environmental and economic concerns - both of which are important to our energy future. If this stay granted by the Supreme Court had not been granted, rural power companies across the nation would have been forced to take costly and irreversible steps to comply with these new federal regulations.
We all want what is best for our customers, and FPU will continue to work with government and industry leaders to develop the best solution possible for our energy future.