Power reliability group questions EPA climate rule

The Obama administration’s plan to reduce carbon emissions from power plants could harm electricity reliability, according to the group tasked with protecting the country’s electric grid.

The North American Electric Reliability Corporation (NERC) appointed to ensure reliability and adequacy of power, said the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) may have underestimated the rate at which power plants will shut down as a result of the new rules.

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It asked the EPA to consider delaying its implementation plan for the rules, set to take full effect in 2030.

“The proposed timeline does not provide enough time to develop sufficient resources to ensure continued reliable operation of the electric grid by 2020,” NERC writes in its Wednesday report.

“More time for implementation may be needed to accommodate reliability enhancements.”

The EPA predicted that some coal-fired power plants would shut down because they would not be able to meet the new standards that states will have to enforce. But it expects other power sources, including natural gas, nuclear and renewables, to make up the difference, along with energy efficiency gains.

“Based on NERC’s initial review, more time would be needed in certain areas to ensure resource adequacy, reliability requirements, and infrastructure needs are maintained,” NERC said.

The report provided backing for what House Republicans have said for months: the EPA’s plan would hurt power consumers and businesses.

“EPA is seeking to eliminate one of our nation’s most abundant and affordable sources of power, but the administration has yet to provide honest answers about just how damaging the consequences will be for our nation’s power grid and our economy,” Rep. Ed WhitfieldEd WhitfieldKentucky Republican to resign from House House lawmakers urge Obama to forgo lame-duck TPP vote Ethics panel rebukes Kentucky Republican MORE (R-Ky.), chairman of the House Energy and Commerce Energy and Power subcommittee, said in a statement.

“We can’t afford to play a guessing game when it comes to energy reliability, and we will continue to do everything we can to ensure American businesses and families are not left in the dark,” he said.

The EPA defended its proposal.

“Our analysis finds that the proposal would not raise significant concerns over regional resource adequacy or raise the potential for interregional grid problems,” EPA spokeswoman Liz Purchia said in a statement.

“Any remaining local issues would be managed, as they are today, through standard reliability planning processes.”