Will EPA Regulators Leave America In The Dark?

by Ben Lieberman on October 27, 2010

in Blog, Features

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There’s no doubt that federal regulations lead to economic harm, but could the wave of Obama regulations affecting electric power plants lead to electricity shortages as well? A new study from the North American Electric Reliability Corporation (NERC) finds reason for concern.

Resource Adequacy Impacts of Potential U.S. Environmental Regulations looks at four pending Environmental Protection Agency rules – the Cooling Tower Rule, the MACT Rule, the Clean Air Transport Rule, and the Coal Combustion Residuals Rule – that would impact coal-fired electric generating units. These power plants currently provide half of America’s electricity. It should be noted that there are several other proposed or recently finalized rules that also affect these units – including the EPA’s massive global warming regulatory agenda – that are not considered in this study. Nonetheless, NERC concludes that these four rules raise issues about electric reliability in the years ahead.

The study concedes considerable uncertainties regarding how strict the final version of these proposed rules will be as well as their ultimate compliance costs. For example, multiple rules with fairly urgent and overlapping timetables place great constraints on the existing supply of skilled labor and equipment needed to comply, while a more sequential rollout would be less onerous. In any event, NERC fears enough premature retirements of older coal-fired plants, along with significant downtime for units undergoing retrofits, to raise the possibility of reliability shortfalls.

This much is certain – the billions in compliance costs from EPA’s rules will boost electric bills. But whether there will be enough electricity to meet the nation’s growing demand while avoiding brownouts or blackouts is just one more piece of regulatory uncertainty to be piled onto the economy in the years ahead.

BobRGeologist October 27, 2010 at 10:42 pm

We are so accustomed to reliable electric power and if blackouts became frequent, I would think that a horde of infuriated people would descend on Washington giving legislators second thoughts about trying to control mother nature. Meanwhile we should give the media reason to reveal the whole dirty story behind the machinations of some climate scientists in maintaining the flow of government financed research grants, a swindle of major proportions

of taxpayer dollars. Dr. Michael Mann and his infamous "hockey stick graph" comes to mind as one of the more notable perpetrators. Only identifying and proscecuting these individuals will restore the good name of science and prevent the waste of trillions of dollars more of taxpayer funds.

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