Report: Clean Power Plan Can Keep the Lights On

COLUMBUS, Ohio — State regulators are determining how Ohio will meet the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency’s proposed carbon emission reduction goals, and a new report highlights ways the industry can ensure the electric grid stays reliable.

Some opponents argue the government’s Clean Power Plan will result in system failures, but the report from the Analysis Group, a Boston consulting firm, finds the grid will not be jeopardized.

Susan Tierney, a senior adviser with the Analysis Group, says grid operators, power companies and regulators can coordinate, just as they always do, to keep the lights on.

“We have an electric industry that is so mission-oriented that it’s just a false premise to think that they’re going to stand around and let the problem happen,” she points out. “They’re going to do something ahead of time.”

Tierney contends that with good planning and the use of current operational procedures that address reliability, the electric grid can remain strong.

The Clean Power Plan calls for Ohio to reduce carbon emission from existing power plants 29% from 2012 levels by 2030.

Cheryl Roberto, a former Public Utilities Commissioner of Ohio, says the grid is already transforming. She says through distributed generation customers are keeping the system reliable by choosing how and when to use electricity.

“During the polar vortex last year, the transmission system that serves Ohio was successfully maintained because customers responded to price signals and the grid remained stable as a result of what we call demand response,” Roberto points out.

Opponents maintain the regulations place an unfair burden on heavily coal-powered states.

Former Federal Energy Regulatory Commissioner Marc Spitzer says the issue is too politically polarized and regulators want to hear from those who are responsible for the grid.

“It’s the nature of politics these days to move towards the extremes,” he states. “And so what the chairman and what the other commissioners said at FERC is they’re trying to get away from the politics and get into having people tell them exactly what are the challenges and what would they propose as solutions.”

Spitzer attended a commission hearing last week with energy industry stakeholders examining the impacts of the Clean Power Plan on electric reliability.

SOURCE: Ohio News Connection. Reported by Mary Kuhlman. Photo by D. Sharon Pruitt.

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