Friday, February 13, 2015

Energy Group Pushes Back on NERC's Clean Power Plan Concerns

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A coalition of renewable energy, smart grid and energy technology companies Thursday challenged a warning by the North American Electric Reliability Corp. that the Obama administration's proposed Clean Power Plan may threaten electric grid reliability.

The Advanced Energy Economy Institute issued a report arguing that NERC overstated possible grid operating challenges arising from U.S. EPA's plan to reduce power-sector emissions.

"Following a review of the reliability concerns raised and the options for mitigating them, we find that compliance with the CPP is unlikely to materially affect reliability," said the study by the Brattle Group, an energy-sector consulting firm.

The report will be presented at the winter meeting of the National Association of Regulatory Utility Commissioners, which begins Saturday in Washington, D.C.  It adds another element to a debate swirling around EPA's Clean Power Plan, which seeks to reduce carbon dioxide emissions from power plants 30 percent between 2005 and 2030, with an initial compliance deadline in 2020.  EPA is expected to issue the rule in midsummer.

NERC, the federally appointed reliability monitor for the interstate high-voltage grid, issued an interim report in November 2014 warning that EPA's proposed timeline "does not provide enough time to develop sufficient resource to ensure continued reliable operation of the grid by 2020."  Holding to that deadline increases the potential for "wide-scale, uncontrolled outages," NERC said.

Several of the largest regional transmission grid operators have also warned that the CPP timetable threatens reliable operations and are asking EPA for more time to comply.

Jurgen Weiss, lead author of the Brattle Group report, said that NERC overlooked or underestimated strategies that utilities and grid operators can take to manage the reduction on power plant carbon emissions without threatening blackouts.  "We think NERC has not taken into consideration a number of factors that would substantially mitigate NERC's concerns," Weiss said.

"NERC's objective is to maintain reliability.  So anything that could be seen as a harm to reliability needs to be raised, one way of the other.  The regional system operators by and large get blamed if there is a reliability issue, so they, too, are very conservative about embracing rapid change," Weiss said in an interview.

Read More at Energy Group Pushes Back on NERC's Clean Power Plan Concerns

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