Washington, D.C.—Buckeye Power and Ohio Rural Electric Cooperatives’ President and CEO, Pat O’Loughlin, testified in our nation’s capital for the second time this year about the great risks facing America’s, and Ohio’s, electrical grid—and the latest threat being caused by newly proposed EPA rules requiring 90% carbon capture at coal and natural gas plants by 2030, with the costly installation of unproven technology.
O’Loughlin is one of several industry experts who testified Tuesday before the House Energy and Commerce Committee, and Subcommittee on Environment, Manufacturing & Critical Materials. Committee Chair Cathy McMorris Rodgers (R-WA) and Subcommittee Chair Bill Johnson (R-OH) titled the hearing “Clean Power Plan 2.0: EPA’s Latest Attack on America’s Electric Reliability.”
The EPA’s new rules released late last month would force the few remaining coal and natural gas plants left in Ohio into early retirement due to the extremely high cost of installing the carbon capture systems and infrastructure, explained O'Loughlin. "EPA’s supporting documents show a seven-year lead time for CCS and calls it an 'emerging technology' with very limited full-scale installations making it impossible for plant operators to meet the Agency’s timeline for this unknown technology. Of the projects EPA references to demonstrate viability of CCS, none are of the same scale of a large baseload plant like Buckeye’s Cardinal Generating Facility, and none have demonstrated 90% CCS reliably over an extended period. If enacted, it will jeopardize nearly every coal-fired power plant by 2039 and most by 2030. In our case, Buckeye supplies more than 80% of our annual energy requirements from coal-fired power plants. Buckeye Power will be required to shut down all of our coal-fired units by 2030 with no hope of nearly replacing this energy within that timeframe." O'Loughlin offered testimony that replacing the power generation lost from coal and gas plants with solar power would cost $1.5 billion and require 6,000 acres of solar array fields but would still not offer the power reliability of coal or natural gas during inclement weather, or winter weather. Nearly every entity (NERC and PJM) with electric reliability responsibility has recognized the increased risk to electric system reliability during extreme weather events. Since Christmas approximately 5,000 MW of dispatchable fossil generation has retired in the PJM footprint.
Jay Duffy, an attorney for the Clean Air Task Force who worked on the new EPA rules also testified in the hearing. "Our mission is to push the technology and policy changes needed to get us to achieve zero emissions, high energy planet, at an affordable cost. To achieve that, we advocate for strong pollution control standards for power plants." Duffy testified the carbon capture technology is currently being used at three U.S. plants. "The impacts of the EPA's proposal are modest and manageable. We do not need to choose between public health and reliable electricity."
However, complying with the rule would require thousands of miles of pipeline construction, installation, and infrastructure to contain the captured carbon dioxide, and the EPA allowed only a 60-day time period to respond to the rules. Many on the panel requested an extension.
“Energy is foundational to our way of life in America. It is because of our abundant and reliable energy resources that we have led the way in lifting people out of poverty, raising the standard of living, and reducing emissions,” said Chairs Rodgers and Johnson. “President Biden’s rush-to-green, so-called climate agenda is reversing this progress by shuttering reliable baseload power sources, raising costs, and threatening energy blackouts. This hearing will explore how the Environmental Protection Agency’s latest proposed power plant rules could make these problems worse and add new costly burdens to important energy sources like natural gas, which is responsible for a significant portion of emission reductions. We look forward to hearing from expert witnesses on why the EPA should abandon these dangerous efforts and focus instead on ensuring reliable and affordable energy for our communities across the nation.”
“Throughout the country we are already experiencing power supply emergencies anytime we experience an extreme weather event,” said Pat O’Loughlin. “As someone who has worked in the electric power industry for decades, I know that despite what EPA has claimed, this rule will in fact have a serious negative impact on the reliability of our electric system and will result in a dramatic increase in costs to Ohio’s electric cooperative members. It is imperative that EPA change course.”