Capito: Ratepayers, grid reliability will bear the brunt of EPA’s shutdown plans for power plants

The Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) must rescind its Clean Power Plan 2.0 proposal and make affordability, reliability, and the limits of its authorities under the Clean Air Act cornerstones of any future proposal, said U.S. Sen. Shelley Moore Capito (R-WV).

Otherwise, said the lawmaker, consumers and the nation’s electrical grid could end up paying the price.

In comments sent on Dec. 18 to EPA Administrator Michael Regan, Sen. Capito and her colleague, U.S. Sen. John Barrasso (R-WY), outlined their concerns with the Biden administration’s proposed Clean Power Plan 2.0, which they said aims to close down America’s power plants, also threatening grid reliability.

“We are deeply concerned that the agency’s proposal is unachievable, uneconomic, and unreasonable for small and large electric generating units alike given that the emissions control technologies mandated are currently inadequately demonstrated,” the senators wrote in their six-page letter.

The proposed Clean Power Plan 2.0 also fails to sufficiently consider “the serious reliability concerns” already raised by stakeholders, regulators, and independent experts, they added. 

“Changes by the agency to the modeling underlying the rule, as well as information and comments furnished by third parties since the initial comment period closed …, clearly demonstrate that the EPA’s proposal is unjustifiable,” wrote Sen. Capito and her colleague.

For instance, the proposed rule “clearly runs afoul” of the U.S. Supreme Court’s 2022 ruling in West Virginia v. EPA, in which the High Court held that the EPA did not have the authority to adopt generation-shifting as the best system of emission reduction as part of its emission guidelines for power plant greenhouse gas emissions under Clean Air Act section 111(d).

Nevertheless, the EPA has clearly chosen to adopt generation shifting through its co-firing requirements in the proposal, according to the senators’ letter.

The impact of such flaws, they wrote, ultimately will be borne by ratepayers through higher energy costs and the effects of reduced reliability on economic opportunity and public health and safety. 

At the same time, low-income and other vulnerable Americans will be disproportionately affected due to the regressive nature of energy cost increases, says their letter.

“The more time that has passed since the proposal, the more issues with the Clean Power Plan 2.0 have been uncovered,” Sen. Capito and Sen. Barrasso wrote. “The proposal is beyond repair and must be withdrawn. Failing to do so and moving ahead with the proposal would significantly threaten the safety and reliability of the electric grid.”