Energy Efficiency’s Role in Clean Air Compliance


clean air energy

Energy efficiency is widely recognized as a cost-effective, rapidly-deployable resource for air pollution reductions from electric generation units (EGUs) at fossil fuel-fired power plants. By reducing demand on EGUs, energy efficiency can avoid emissions of a spectrum of regulated air pollutants. Among these is carbon dioxide, which may be regulated in the years ahead through the EPA’s Clean Power Plan. Notably, the Clean Power Plan articulates a specific role for energy efficiency in achieving carbon dioxide emissions reductions.

What is The Clean Power Plan?

Section 111(d) of the Clean Air Act  gives the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency the authority to develop regulations for categories of existing air polluting sources that are responsible for generating air pollution that can endanger public health or welfare. Executive Order 13514, signed on October 5, 2009, initiated the process of including carbon dioxide emitted from existing power generation sources as a new regulation under this statute.

Following an extensive public comment process, EPA published the final Clean Power Plan in the Federal Register on August 3, 2015. On February 9, 2016, the Supreme Court a temporary stay of the Clean Power Plan. On May 16, 2016, the D.C. Circuit Court delayed oral arguments on the Clean Power Plan until September 27, 2016, when they will be heard by a full nine-judge panel. SEEA continues to monitor this situation as the meaning and impact of these actions become more clear.

As the litigation proceeds, EPA continues to provide guidance and support to states moving forward with their planning efforts. Included in this guidance is EPA’s recent re-proposal of  design details regarding the Clean Energy Incentive Program.

What is SEEA’s Position on the Clean Power Plan?

SEEA does not take a position on whether EPA has the authority to or should regulate greenhouse gas emissions from existing sources. If these regulations move forward, SEEA is focused on working with states, utilities and other key stakeholders to support energy efficiency as a least-cost, multi-pollutant resource and compliance pathway—where appropriate and cost-effective—to build a stronger, more vibrant Southeast.

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