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GHG NSPS Update: New Electric Generating Units

by Frank D.
Frank D.

On September 20, 2013, U.S. EPA released its proposed New Source Performance Standards (NSPS) for emissions of carbon dioxide (CO2) from new electric utility steam generating units (EGUs).  As presented in Megan Uhler’s blog, U.S. EPA had initially proposed NSPS for emissions of CO2 from new power plants on March 27, 2012; however, since U.S. EPA failed to issue the final version of this rule within one (1) year of the original proposal, the March 27, 2012 proposed rule needed to be terminated and U.S. EPA was required to re-propose, accept comments on, and finalize an entirely new version of the rule. 

In U.S. EPA’s new September 20, 2013 proposal, separate standards of performance have been proposed for different types of EGU configurations.  If finalized as proposed, there would be standards of performance for new affected fossil fuel-fired electric utility steam generating units and stationary combustion turbines.  The action proposes a separate standard of performance for fossil fuel-fired electric utility steam generating units and integrated gasification combined cycle units that burn coal, petroleum coke, and other fossil fuels based on partial implementation of carbon capture and sequestration (CCS) technology as the Best System of Emission Reduction (BSER), despite ongoing criticism that CCS is cost prohibitive and years from commercial deployment.  The action also proposes standards for natural gas-fired stationary combustion turbines based on combined cycle technology as the BSER.  If the rule is finalized as proposed, new large natural gas-fired turbines would need to meet a limit of 1,000 pounds of CO2 per megawatt-hour, while new small natural gas-fired turbines would need to meet a limit of 1,100 pounds of CO2 per megawatt-hour.  New coal-fired units would need to meet a limit of 1,100 pounds of CO2 per megawatt-hour, and would have the option to meet a more stringent limit if they choose to average emissions over multiple years.

 We expect industry to have a strong voice throughout the comment period, especially given the proposed provisions concerning CCS.  Already, internal opposition in the form of a House Republicans’ Congressional Review Act (CRA) resolution (H.J. Res 64) dated September 25, 2013 attempts to disapprove the proposed rule; however, it is suspected that H.J. Res 64 will have little effect on the proposed rule since the CRA is intended to allow for the challenging of final, and not proposed, rules.

Comments on the September 20, 2013 proposed rule will be accepted until November 29, 2013.  A public hearing is in the process of being scheduled.

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