Proposed federal rule to limit greenhouse gas emissions to 1,000 pounds per hour
FRANKFORT, Ky. (July 9, 2013) — It will be a “difficult, if not in fact impossible, task” to get a new coal-fired power plant permitted by the federal government in the foreseeable future, Kentucky Energy and Environment Cabinet Secretary Dr. Len Peters told a state legislative committee Tuesday.
Peters made the statement to the Interim Joint Committee on Natural Resources and Environment, which met to discuss the well-publicized impending federal regulation of greenhouse gas emissions from new and existing power plants. The latest proposed federal rule is not final, but is expected to limit carbon dioxide emissions from new power plants to 1,000 pounds per megawatt hour, said Peters. Rules affecting existing plants are expected within the year.
The proposed rule for new power plants was delayed in April by the E.P.A. after the electric power industry said the new standards couldn’t be met using current technology, according to April coverage in The New York Times.
Coal-fired power plants are expected to be hardest hit by the rule, which will in turn hurt Kentucky’s coal industry and coal-reliant manufacturing industry, Peters said.
“We are four times more electricity intensive than (the least energy intensive state in the U.S.),” he said while showing lawmakers a chart that marks Kentucky’s electricity consumption per dollar of state gross domestic product with other states. The least energy intensive states — California, New York and Alaska — are not large manufacturing states, he said.
Between 200,000 and 215,000 Kentuckians are employed in the manufacturing industry, he said.
“That’s why we have to look (at these proposed rules) in the light of what we need and what is important in the state of Kentucky, and that’s the message that we’re trying to get out there,” Peters said.
That means looking at newer technologies that can help meet the state’s electricity needs, he said — technologies like oxy-combustion and “supercritical” boiler efficiency methods that would “enable us to use coal to a greater extent,” by reducing carbon dioxide emissions, Peters said.
Today, Kentucky is around 90 percent reliant on coal for its electricity needs. That level of usage will decline with time, Peters said, although he explained that coal is an important part of the state’s and nation’s energy mix. Peters said there are only three viable means of base load electricity generation for manufacturing states — coal, nuclear and natural gas.
LG&E and KU Vice President for External Affairs George Siemens explained that regulation of carbon dioxide emissions is a significant issue. Because of that, he said, electricity generators are asking for flexibility and time to deal with proposed changes.
“This is unlike anything we have dealt with before,” Siemens said.
Based on the regulatory stance of the current federal administration, Senate Majority Whip Brandon Smith, R-Hazard, expressed concerns for the future of his region’s signature industry.
“The heavy lifters like coal and hydro and nuclear are off the table, and we’re supposed to somehow march into this brand new world to create manufacturing jobs with wind and solar that are wonderful…but I think everybody would agree they’re not ready to take on the load,” Smith said.