EPA Proposes New Power Plant Rule

Jun 11, 2014

The Environmental Protection Agency announced last week it’s considering a new rule that would require power plants to reduce greenhouse gas emissions by 30 percent in 15 years.  US Senator Lisa Murkowski says this rule is unfair to Alaska. 

Senator Murkowski, as the ranking republican on the Senate Energy and Natural Resources Committee, said last week the EPA’s restriction on greenhouse gas emissions is an effort to bypass Congress and levy policies that would drive electric supply away from coal.  She says coal power accounts for almost 40% of power services.

The new rule, Murkowski says, didn’t look at Alaska at all, only the lower 48.

“We’re one-fifth the size of the country.  That does not mean my state is exempt from this new rule as some reports have led Alaskans to believe.  Instead, without the benefit of any analysis, EPA has directed Alaska to reduce emissions by 26%.”

Some Alaskans pay as much as 50 percent of their monthly income to electric companies, Murkowsky says, whereas the average house in the Lower 48 pays 4 percent.  She also states that Alaska is not just physically separated from the Lower 48, but it’s also not connected to the electric grid.  When the power goes out-- it’s only Alaska’s problem.

Murkowski says those living in the Lower 48 effected by the Polar Vortex this winter had a taste of what Alaskan winters are like.  She says the winter storms and blizzards that caused power plant outages were because those states don’t prepare as intensely as Alaska.

“EPA has suggested a series of strategies for reducing greenhouse gas emissions.  But of the five power plants in Alaska directly impacted by this proposed rule, four are natural gas-fired plants located near each other and Anchorage.  The fifth already has clean coal technology.  The proposed strategies of switching to natural gas, dispatch changes, or retiring plants are simply unworkable.  Given that we live the Polar Vortex each winter, our house are already well insulated to protect from the cold, so efficiency programs will likely provide comparatively small gains.”

Murkowski says the new EPA rule would make the electricity grid less stable and less reliable because Alaska, and other states with extreme weather, rely on diverse baseload capacities.