(AUSTIN – December 16, 2014) The Electric Reliability Council of Texas (ERCOT), as outlined in its new report, confirms there will be minimal impact to Texas’ power grid from meeting the Environmental Protection Agency’s proposed Clean Power Plan, which would set the first-ever national limits on carbon pollution from existing power plants.
ERCOT found the proposed EPA standards pose a minimal incremental impact to the power grid once other clean air protections already adopted or proposed have been implemented. The impact would be as few as 200 megawatts, which equates to less than one coal-fired power plant.
Beginning in January 2015, power companies across the state must comply with EPA’s bedrock clean air regulations, including the Cross State Air Pollution Rule (CSAPR), the Mercury Air Toxics Standard (MATS), and others. Power companies will install control technologies to reduce multiple, not just one, pollutants, thereby making compliance with EPA’s subsequent regulations easier and more cost-effective. Further, ERCOT’s report demonstrates that Texas will be well-positioned to meet the lower-carbon goals set forth in the Clean Power Plan by taking a minimal amount of additional aging coal plants offline by 2029.
“ERCOT’s report shows that Texas can go a long way toward complying with the proposed Clean Power Plan by meeting other clean air safeguards, which Texas power companies have had years to prepare for. If ERCOT has any concerns over future reliability, it’s not because of EPA. It’s due to some Texas power companies wasting resources on aging coal plants and not harnessing the state’s abundant and affluent clean energy resources,” said Jim Marston, Director of Environmental Defense Fund’s Texas Office.
“Energy efficiency, solar rooftop, and demand response are gaining ground every day in Texas and have proven to be vital resources on the power grid and help reduce electricity costs for Texas homes and businesses. Energy efficiency, in particular, provides significant reductions in power plant emissions, including carbon dioxide, sulfur dioxide, and ozone-forming pollutants, and has a four-to-one payback on investment. This is the type of performance worth investing in,” added Marston.
“Texas can no longer rely on the status quo, ignoring market forces that are making coal uneconomical. A clean energy economy is upon us, and the only thing standing in Texas’ way to lead this new market is industry scare tactics,” said Marston.
ERCOT, which manages 90 percent of Texas’ electric grid, acknowledges that Texas has an opportunity for more energy efficiency, demand response, and distributed solar programs to help lower electricity demand and reduce costs for Texans. A holistic view of ERCOT’s report emphasizes a need to implement more flexible technologies – like energy efficiency, demand response, and energy storage – that can respond quickly in times of need, require little to no water, improve air quality, and provide stability to the power grid. In fact, according to independent evaluations from the Brattle Group, ERCOT could:
- Deploy 7,500 megawatts of fast-ramping, quick-to-market demand response;
- Cut projected peak demand growth in half with demand response and expanded energy efficiency alone; and
- Integrate several thousand megawatts of distributed energy storage to improve grid reliability.
Taken together, demand response, energy efficiency, and energy storage (both distributed and grid-scale) would help integrate more renewable energy on the power grid and reduce reliability concerns.
Some Texas electric utilities that recognized what was on the horizon and began prudent planning are well-positioned to meet EPA regulations because they already installed pollution control technologies, retired inefficient, water-intensive coal plants, and integrated more clean energy resources, according to the Texas Tribune.
As the nation’s number one emitter of nitrogen oxides (NOx), the number two emitter of sulfur dioxide (SO2), and the number one emitter of carbon dioxide (CO2), Texas citizens will receive the most health benefits from pollution controls and a shift toward lower-carbon energy resources. In fact, CSAPR and MATS together will save up to 3,000 lives and provide upwards of $25 billion in health benefits in Texas alone.
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Environmental Defense Fund (edf.org), a leading international nonprofit organization, creates transformational solutions to the most serious environmental problems. EDF links science, economics, law and innovative private-sector partnerships. Connect with us on our Texas Clean Air Matters blog, Twitter, and Facebook.