Monday, August 29, 2011

Congressional report looks at impact and cost of proposed regulations on coal-fired power plants

As waves of new Environmental Protection Agency regulations to curb coal-fired power plant pollution are finalized, the nonpartisan Congressional Research Service has released a report separating fact and fiction following industry warnings of higher electric bills, more blackouts, and fewer jobs, Brad Plumer of The Wall Street Journal reports.

The report confirms that the new rules are likely to prompt closures of many coal plants between now and 2017, but the number is uncertain. "Many of these plants are inefficient and are being replaced by more efficient combined-cycle natural-gas plants," the report states.

The impact of these closures on the electric grid will be minimal, according to the report. The recession and the increasing use of natural gas has resulted in excess generation capacity that can easily be tapped again to quickly add capacity, Plumer writes.

The report does not estimate or evaluate costs for complying with the new rules, but suggests industry estimates are overstated because many estimates were based on earlier proposals which have been changed to address some industry concerns, Plumer reports. (Read more; subscription may be required)

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