Monday, July 14, 2014

What the EPA Proposes for Washington State

From EPA's Web Site

Climate change threatens our health and economy 

Carbon pollution leads to long-lasting changes in our climate, such as rising global temperatures, rising sea level, and changes in weather and precipitation patterns. The Third U. S. National Climate Assessment outlines how climate change will impact states like Washington.  

States are taking action

Before issuing this proposal, EPA heard from states, utilities, labor unions, nongovernmental organizations, consumer groups, industry and others to learn more about what programs are already working to reduce carbon pollution.  We learned that states are leading the way– especially through programs that expand energy efficiency and renewable energy. Washington already has programs in place that could be part of its individual or regional plan to reduce carbon pollution, including: 
  • Greenhouse gas performance standards in the form of emission limits, emission rates for electricity purchased, or requirements to capture emissions
  • Energy efficiency standards or goals
  • Demand-side energy efficiency programs that advance energy efficiency improvements for electricity use
  • Energy efficiency codes (meeting 2006 International Energy Conservation Code) for residential buildings
  • Energy efficiency codes (meeting ASHRAE Standard 90.1-2004) for commercial buildings
  • Appliance and equipment efficiency standards
  • Renewable energy portfolio standards or goals

Proposed state goals build on state leadership

To set state-specific goals, EPA analyzed the practical and affordable strategies that states and utilities are already using to lower carbon pollution from the power sector. These include improving energy efficiency, improving power plant operations, and encouraging reliance on low-carbon and zero-emitting electricity generation. Together, these make up the best system for reducing carbon pollution. They achieve meaningful reductions at a lower cost. 

The Agency applied these strategies consistently, but each state’s energy mix ultimately leads to a different goal that is unique to the state.

In 2012, Washington’s power sector CO2 emissions were approximately 7 million metric tons from sources covered by the rule. The amount of energy produced by fossil-fuel fired plants, and certain low or zero emitting plants was approximately 19 terawatt hours (TWh)*. So, Washington’s 2012 emission rate was 763 pounds/megawatt hours (lb/MWh).  

EPA is proposing that Washington develop a plan to lower its carbon pollution to meet its proposed emission rate goal of 215 lb/MWh in 2030. This amounts to a 72% reduction (Note that 70% of Washington's electric power emissions are generated by one coal-fired plant and it is being phased out by 2025),

*includes existing non-hydro renewable energy generation and approximately 6% of nuclear generation. The 2012 emission rate shown here has not been adjusted for any incremental end-use energy efficiency improvements that states may make as part of their plans to reach these state goals. 

States decide how to cut carbon pollution 

The state goals are not requirements on individual electric generating units. Washington will choose how to meet the goal through whatever combination of measures reflects its particular circumstances and policy objectives. A state does not have to put in place the same mix of strategies that EPA used to set the goal.

Washington may work alone or in cooperation with other states to comply with the proposed rule.  EPA estimates that states could achieve their goals most cost effectively if they work with others.  

EPA encourages states to look broadly across their electricity system to identify strategies for their plans to reduce carbon pollution.  Strategies can include:   
  • Demand-side energy efficiency programs
  • Renewable energy standards
  • Efficiency improvements at plants
  • Dispatch changes
  • Co-firing or switching to natural gas
  • Construction of new Natural Gas Combined-Cycle plants
  • Transmission efficiency improvements
  • Energy storage technology
  • Retirements
  • Expanding renewables like wind and solar
  • Expanding nuclear
  • Market-based trading programs
  • Energy conservation programs
Washington's Energy Mix in 2012 (Source: The EIA form 923)

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