Friday, April 24, 2020

Modeling For Carbon Pollution Reduction Proposal Shows 180M Ton Reduction In CO2, 3% Increase In Electric, Coal Use Drops Either Way

On April 23, the Department of Environmental Protection presented modeling results for its proposal to reduce carbon pollution from power plants which found it would reduce carbon emissions by 180 million tons, cause a 3 percent increase in the wholesale price of electricity, and, with or without the program, coal use will decline sharply.
The presentation was made to members of DEP’s Citizens Advisory Council and the Air Quality Technical Advisory Committee during a virtual meeting.
A copy of the draft regulation implementing the program is now available, along with other background documents from the meeting--
DEP did not yet have available its economic impact analysis, but said it would be done sometime before the formal public comment period begins.
The proposal is being developed in response to an Executive Order issued by Gov. Wolf last October directing DEP to develop a carbon emissions reduction program compatible with the Regional Greenhouse Gas Initiative being implemented by Northeast states.
Gov. Wolf set a goal to reduce Pennsylvania’s greenhouse gas emissions by 26 percent by 2025 and 80 percent by 2050 from 2005 levels and this proposal will make a significant contribution to achieving that goal, DEP said.
Main Findings
-- Emission Reductions: Modeling found Pennsylvania will experience a 180 million ton reduction in carbon dioxide emissions from 2020 to 2030 resulting in significant health benefits for Pennsylvania and the region.  Similar reductions in RGGI states so far resulted in an estimated $5.4 billion in avoided health costs.
-- Wholesale Electricity Costs: Pennsylvania may see an increase of 3 percent in wholesale electricity costs by 2030.  A 3 percent increase would equate to an increase of about $1.10/MWh.  DEP noted the energy price impacts do not include the demand reductions and other benefits from investments of an estimated $300 million in annual revenue generated by the program.  They pointed out RGGI states had a net economic benefit of about $1.4 billion, including electricity costs and the impact of investments.
-- Electricity Generation: Pennsylvania is likely to see about a 6 percent reduction in electricity generation as a result of the program by 2030, but the state’s electric generation assets are expected to maintain their competitive advantage.
-- Electricity Exports: Pennsylvania will continue to be a major exporter of electricity, but will see a decrease of 2.5 percent in exports.  The state now exports about 30 percent of its generation and by 2030 is expected to increase its exports to 37 percent of generation, although generation itself is expected to decrease as noted.
-- Use Of Coal: With or without the carbon pollution reduction program, the use of coal to generate electricity in Pennsylvania will decline drastically.  Coal use will decline by 80 percent by 2030, if Pennsylvania does not adopt the program as a result of competition with natural gas and reduced electricity demand.  With the program, modeling estimates it will decline by an additional 13 percent or 93 percent from present levels by 2030.
Delaying The Proposal?
On April 21, 18 Senate Republicans wrote to Gov. Wolf asking him to rescind the Executive Order directing DEP to establish a carbon pollution reduction program covering power plants saying the COVID-19 pandemic has had a severe impact on Pennsylvania’s economy and communities hosting power plants.
While not in response to the letter, there was a question about delaying the proposal because of the economic impact of the COVID-19 pandemic at the April 23 advisory committee meetings.
Hayley Book, Senior Advisor on Energy and Climate, who has been managing the RGGI project, said any regulation adopted to implement a carbon pollution reduction program from power plants would not take effect until 2022.  
She said there would be no impacts between now and then
In addition, Book said a recent study by Harvard University found a link between air pollution-- PM2.5 particulate pollution-- and a higher death rate from COVID-19.
She said there will be plenty more opportunities to comment on the proposal and for continued conversations.
A poll done in May of last year found 79 percent of Pennsylvanians supported a carbon pollution reduction program covering power plants.
As former Gov. Tom Ridge said in an op-ed in The Atlantic Magazine on Earth Day, conservatives are out of touch with the public on the environment.
Next Meeting
The Air Quality Technical Advisory Committee is scheduled to have a follow-up meeting on May 7 to get into a more in-depth discussion of the proposal.
DEP will continue its outreach to the public with another follow-up meeting with the DEP Citizens Advisory Council on May 19..
DEP first reviewed it with the Air Quality Technical Advisory Committee on February 13, DEP’s Citizens Advisory Committee on February 18 and the Climate Change Advisory Committee on February 25.
DEP first released a draft regulation establishing the program on January 30, and the agency has had meetings with stakeholders, taken comments and appeared before Senate and House hearings, briefings and information meetings to discuss the proposal.
The Governor’s Executive Order requires DEP to present a proposed regulation to the Environmental Quality Board for consideration in July.
The documents related to the proposal can be found on DEP’s Air Quality Technical Advisory Committee webpage.
For more information on RGGI, visit DEP’s Regional Greenhouse Gas Initiative webpage.  Click Here for a copy of DEP’s draft RGGI regulation.
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[Posted: April 24, 2020] PA Environment Digest

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