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EPA Caps New Power Plant Emissions


March 29, 2012

On March 27, 2012, EPA proposed a new source performance standard for greenhouse gas emissions from new fossil fuel-fired electric generating units (“power plants”) rated at 25 megawatts electric or greater. The new standards would limit emissions of carbon dioxide to no greater than 1,000 pounds per megawatt-hour of electricity generated on a gross output basis. The proposed limit would apply to new fossil fuel-fired power plants covered by the rule, but would not apply to existing plants or to recently permitted plants that begin construction within 12 months of the publication of the proposed rule in the Federal Register.

Although most new combined-cycle, natural-gas fired units can meet the proposed limit, new power plants that fire other fossil fuels (such as coal, coal refuse, oil, petroleum coke) and integrated gasification combined-cycle (IGCC) plants would need to use carbon capture and storage (CCS) technology on the exhaust gas stream to meet the new limit.

EPA acknowledges that the use of CCS technology would add considerably to the cost of a new power plant but does not expect any significant new coal-fired power plant construction due to the increased availability and lower costs of natural gas compared to coal.

Read more about the proposed rule and assess the potential effect of the proposed rule on future power generation plans.