US utilities in line for EPA compliance

The electric industry has the capacity to meet EPA GHG regulations by retrofitting or retiring current coal plants.

Michael Bradley, president of MJ Bradley Associates and founder of the Clean Energy Group spoke at a US Energy Association forum last week stating that the electric sector is in good shape. New EPA regulations beginning January 2011 stipulate that power plants and other large emitters must obtain permits showing that facilities are using the best available technology to limit their GHG emissions. Beginning in 2012, the EPA will replace the clean air interstate act (CAIR) with the Transport Rule, which seeks reductions of SO2 and NOx emissions from power plants in over 30 states.

The electric industry was already slated to retire several 50-60 year old plants, making cooperation with the new EPA regulations less troublesome. Two-thirds of coal power plants already use smokestack scrubbers thereby complying with the SO2 restrictions contained in the Transport Rule.

A larger supply of natural gas has also contributed to a transition away from strictly coal fired plants. Russ Ford, executive vice president of Shell Oil expressed his excitement about the discovery of shale gas deposits throughout the US and Canada that could supply domestic demand for a century.

Although the US has yet to pass strict climate legislation is regards to GHG emissions, energy companies have already begun investing in renewable energy technologies in anticipation of doubled energy demands by 2030.