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September 22, 2014

FERC Pulled Into House GOP’s Questions About EPA Carbon Rule

Republican concerns about the potential closure of coal power plants — and questions about the nation’s electricity infrastructure — will be on display Tuesday as a House Energy and Commerce subcommittee hears from the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission on the EPA’s proposal to regulate carbon emissions from existing power plants.

Energy and Commerce Chairman Fred Upton of Michigan and other GOP members have raised concerns that the proposal, which the administration calls the Clean Power Plan, would result in the closure of coal power plants and jeopardize grid reliability.

They also have questioned whether EPA consulted FERC, which is responsible for grid reliability.

“FERC has closely followed the development of the Clean Power Plan because it is clear that such regulations and related state compliance plans could have implications for the operation of the grid,” FERC Chairwoman Cheryl LaFleur wrote in her prepared testimony.

In her response to questions from the committee, LaFleur outlined the input FERC had in the development of the proposal:

  • On February 7, 2014, I and others from FERC met with EPA officials at FERC headquarters. At the meeting, the EPA officials described in very general terms aspects of the Proposal.
  • On February 18, 2014, FERC staff met with EPA staff at EPA headquarters in Washington, DC, as a follow-up to learn more about the Proposal.
  • On March 6, 2014, FERC staff met at EPA headquarters with staff from EPA and DOE to discuss certain concepts proposed in a paper by RTOs related to the Proposal.
  • On April 16, 2014, FERC staff met with EPA staff at EPA headquarters in Washington, DC, to review parts of a draft of the Proposal and to ask about certain issues and information in the Proposal.
  • On April 23, 2014, FERC staff participated in a telephone conference with staff from the EPA and the Office of Management and Budget (OMB) regarding a draft of the Proposal. FERC staff provided oral comments on the draft Proposal, which focused primarily on reliability. FERC staff commented on the draft’s contemplated increases in the capacity factor for natural gas combined cycle units, renewable generation, and coal heat rates. In particular, FERC staff commented on pipeline and other infrastructure adequacy given the potential increased utilization of natural gas combined cycle units and renewable generation in the draft Proposal. FERC staff also commented on the advisability of regional collaboration among states and some form of a “reliability safety valve.”
  • On May 29, 2014, FERC staff met with staff from EPA at EPA headquarters in Washington, DC. EPA staff provided FERC staff with an oral summary of the draft Proposal.
  • On July 18, 2014, FERC staff met with EPA staff at EPA headquarters in Washington, DC. The EPA staff provided FERC staff with an oral update on the public response to the Proposal.

“FERC has not specifically analyzed the proposal to determine the impact it could have on generating unit retirements or potential impacts on fuel diversity,” LaFleur wrote, noting that the regulations provide flexibility for developing a compliance strategy to be phased in starting in 2020. “Retirement of a unit is an economic decision for the unit’s owner, unless a unit is required or requested to remain in service (with appropriate compensation) to ensure reliability.”

LaFleur resisted the committee’s pressing for a FERC study on the effects of the regulations, which have yet to be finalized and will depend on state implementation plans.

“Given the uncertainty and substantial number of assumptions, the results from any study would depend greatly on the assumptions chosen as inputs,” she wrote. “Thus, a study could be more speculative than informative, especially for later years.”

  • Jesse4

    With so much cheap gas available, switching to that from coal should be a no-brainer.

  • kenhowes

    It isn’t an economic decision when the economics of the decision have been grossly distorted by political interference–which is what has happened in this case.

  • Izno

    “Gas” is a little bit of a misnomer–the ‘gas’ in a ‘gas power plant’ actually refers to the superheated air and not the method of heating.

  • colsooonscoorner

    I hope FERC sits on EPA. With a big time no you can’t do that!, They need somebody to give ‘em a kick in the butt!!!

  • GreyWolf

    I prefer the EPA, OMB, FERC, etc. stop trying to reduce our carbon footprint by using techniques that will ultimately shut down the energy system!!! Instead, I prefer they use their efforts to developing non-fossil-fuel avenues of generating energy, by both extending and optimizing existing technologies and developing new technologies. That is the only way we will be able to significantly reduce our carbon footprint.

    I believe that if these various agencies continue using the approach of implementing more and more draconian restrictions on the energy ( electrical, automotive fuels, home heating, etc. ) industry, this country will experience a near total financial collapse. That is a lot like the guy who did not like the way his face looked, so he got mad at his face and cut off his nose, just for spite.

  • talljohn777

    The EPA is out to destroy the economy… Yipee

  • government watchdog

    Here is another Obama driven proposal to destroy the country. Obama knows that clean air is only going to be available if the democrats destroy any business they dislike.It will take the November election and activism by the people to tell the president who really run the country. And the Republicans must stand up and attack the dems for their attacks on the country.

  • John Secor

    Methinks there’s an Ethiopian in the fuel supply!

  • Joan Sorrels

    What I see from this article is there has been several miles of travel done for meetings. The feds seem to love sending people all over for meetings and nothing is accomplished. Do We Not live in an age that we can communicate with out all this traveling. Think of the money we would save. Yes we have enough natural gas to supply this country for several hundred years, but if we sell it to other countries we are selling off our future. We have to many chiefs and not enough Indians in this government. The only thong that matters is what we can get for ourselves and not worry about the future generations. There is enough money to do what ever the feds want. If not tax the people more.

  • Charles Barnard

    We might not have enough power to run all our gadgets & crap for awhile without rationing–or building more solar capacity.

    Or lets just hasten the rate at which the ice melts and arable land becomes desert.

    How about, while we build new cleaner plants, we start taking the crappiest of the existing plants off line, while restructuring and hardening our distribution system. And work to clean up all existing plants.

    Take them off one at a time and stop when you have difficulties controlling demand by rationing. When more capacity comes online, take another out of service.

    Nobody ever said you have to try and change them out overnight across the grid!

    It’s never the way to rebuild infrastructure. All of the arguments against this are spurious.

    Power companies have gotten very used to running dirty and fat with minimal investment.

    This is not new! We have been after them to eliminate these dirty plants for two generation! These plants were built at the same time or shortly after we began demanding cleaner power.

  • David K

    There is not a shred of actual data to support the ice melting and desertification claims. Virtually all of the climate models have failed to predict what is actually occurring, that being increasing CO2 and DECREASING temperatures. No catastrophic warming (no warming at all), no ice cap deterioration, no increase in powerful storms, no catastrophic sea level rises, nothing. Yet, they continue with the hyperbole.

  • Charles Barnard

    Really? ‘Not a shred.’ Wow. An extraordinary claim which requires extraordinary proofs. So far, absent even by reference.

    Oh, I agree the models are off–but what I see is that the sea levels are rising faster, the ice melt is faster and the temperatures are higher than the models predict…so I must wonder whose data you are looking at, that they disagree with the vast majority of scientists in the field?

    Obviously I too disagree with the majority, but that’s because I would much rather be ready for disaster long before than to be caught unprepared. I’m conservative that way. Prevention is always cheaper than repair, and repair isn’t always possible.

    Call the Mayor of La Paz, Bolivia. Ask him how the glaciers that feed the city water are doing.

    Call Greenland, ask them how fast their fastest glacier is going today…and how fast it flowed 30 years ago.

    I can only hope that you are so serious you are investing in Florida real estate…you’ll love Florida, you’ll fit right in.

  • David K

    Where do you see sea levels rising faster? Where do you see temperatures higher than the models predicted. In actuality, since 1998, temperatures have remained basically stable if not declined. In reality, both surface and satellite temperature measurements demonstrate trends in temperature that are below climate model predictions. You cite the Greenland glacier melt as if it proves anything. The fact is that during the time of the Vikings, roughly 1000-1500 AD, there was very little glacier ice in Greenland and agricultural activities abounded. I suppose man-made CO2 was responsible for that? Any warming and cooling we experience is within the bounds of natural variation and folks that maintain otherwise have another agenda.

    See if you can respond without the ad hominem attacks. Or was the Florida reference meant as a compliment?

  • Charles Barnard

    Pardon me.
    You made a statement at odds with the stated opinions of the vast majority of people who study this issue.

    The burden of proof lies not on me, but on you. What evidence to support the stable state of sea level? (Which, by the way is deucedly difficult.) I can give you phone numbers to talk with people affected by rising sea level,,,or you could google it.

    Greenland did indeed lose much of it’s southern ice sheet–but nowhere near the mass it is losing today.

    Nowhere have I said or even implied that CO2 is the responsible force! That hasn’t been suggested for decades in any serious forum. It is one of many, and only one of few we have the ability to control.

    And the argument that it is withing ‘natural variation’ is true if you disregard the rate of change.

    The Earth’s ‘natural variation’ of climate runs from full tropical to full ice-ball.

    We began affecting the climate at least 5,000BCE by cutting down the forest that is now Iraq.

    All of that aside, I have to wonder, just what is it you think the people who believe the problem is real are attempting to get out of their push to solve the problem?

    ‘Cause I don’t see it.

    Worst, we have cleaner air, we have a nice, prepared infrastructure leading from the coasts to the interior, we’ve got break-waters protecting beaches and we’ve cleaned up the toxic waste near the shores.

    And lots of lots of major and minor corporations make lots and lots of cash employing lots of Americans.

    What’s wrong with that?

  • Charles Barnard

    We already had one recent financial crash.
    Because the agencies placed to prevent it refused to act.
    (Effective deregulation!)

    Energy system needs desperately to be overhauled anyway–preferably by removing dirty equipment. The energy companies have refused to actually make efforts on their own to clean up in the forty years since people started demanding it. That, is the life-expectancy of the generator plant, and they have no excuse for not having done things decades ago.

    The companies will only pass on the cost, keeping a percentage as additional profit.

    Perhaps they should look to another business model, one that doesn’t use hydrocarbons as fuel….

    The buggy whip manufacturer has no beef when the public no longer wants their whips. And no one long survives even the appearance of poisoning their neighbor.

  • Charles Barnard

    Not in this context. They referring to switching to burning natural gas.

  • Chris Hogan
  • stopcronycapitalism

    If our government would spend a fraction of the money they spend on wind developments to retro-fit existing coal plants and to pay for the development of new technology, we could actually make a difference in pollutants. Our “leaders” are so used to dolling out tax dollars to wind interests they have no interest in doing anything other than destroy our existing reliable energy sources.

  • Charles Barnard

    Your
    sources are cute.
    But
    it all may be moot.
    For
    our greatest threat we did not know,
    Is
    coming from the heat below.

    No
    debate, nor blame to place.
    Nature’s
    to blame not the human race.
    But
    the seas shall rise much faster than
    We
    all thought it can.

    The
    threat is real, it’s three meters high,
    Naught
    to do with CO2 in the sky.
    Three
    meters–ten feet!
    Twice
    what the Army would defeat.

    In
    less time than we fought in ‘Nam,
    Our
    coasts will flood, we can build no dam.
    Four
    billion live imperiled on coasts.
    Do
    we have plans to save their toast?

    We
    cannot stop volcanic heat.
    Nor
    ignore the danger under our feet.
    We
    must learn more about this threat,
    I
    fear it may be Man’s worst
    yet.
    http://www.utexas.edu/news/2014/06/10/antarctic-glacier-melting/

  • Charles Barnard

    One season (datum point) doesn’t define a trend, and the scientist quoted is among a very tiny minority.

    While ice mass was up over the previous year, the average age of the ice is far lower than it was even five years ago, and the age of the ice determines melt rate,

    While the ice volume is still above 2012′s it is running right along at -2 std deviations below the long term average.

    The increase or decrease in the polar sea ice is of relatively importance to climate change except over time.

    Sea ice has no effect upon sea levels. Only ice supported by land will change that,

    Sea ice can be expected to increase to a certain extent as glaciers melt because fresh water floats on sea water, and fresh water freezes at a higher temperature.

    In fact, as the Thwaites glacier moves to the sea, the Antarctic ice sheets can be expected to grow substantially. But the seas will be rising the entire time.

    People have been taught that this sort of change takes a long time and is gradual–it isn’t. It’s ‘lumpy’ it starts, stops, reverses, and plows ahead with the occasional huge rapid change.

    Mountains wear down and grow slowly–except when they don’t. We can tear down a mountain in a few weeks. Nature can and does do it in hours or minutes. Or build one almost as fast.

    Glaciers move very slowly–except that we have one today that moves 20 meters per day (the average glacier historically moved about that much per year…)

    It’s a complex system and has so many variables it is very hard to predict accurately, (though accurate prediction of the future for useful purposes is only 20%.)

    This is why scientists are reluctant to commit to any solid numbers–there really are none, only probabilities.

    The IPCC models will only begin to incorporate data from Antarctic glaciers this coming season…this will probably double their predictions since the new data indicates that Antarctica is accounting for one-half of the measured sea level rise.

    Since the IPCC model has consistently predicted less sea level rise than has been measured for the last decade, their new model should come closer to matching reality with their predictions.

    I do hope that his helps you, I’m afraid that your sources have presented primarily partial data and misinterpreted the data available.

    My previous projections have shown for the past seven years a very high chance of at least 1 meter (and up to 15m) of sea rise between now and 2027, probably over a period of less than five years.

    I will have to reevaluate my model in light of the geothermal data from this spring, but it is safe to say that if anything, I will adjust the timeline to even earlier. The levels will probably not change, as the Twaite glacier was already part of the projection. Calculating the odds of the glacier’s release has gotten much more interesting.

    I am certainly one of the least optimistic of projectors, but as I’ve said before, I would rather be prepared than unprepared,

  • Chris Hogan

    Hmm, Nice poem. So now you are changing from carbon causing all the problems to volcanoes? Interesting you figured it out, the gov’t funded scientists haven’t even figured out that interesting fact. The largest producer of “greenhouse gases” is in fact volcanoes and other geological processes, not power plants, not cow flatulence, not industry (at least not American industries), nor humans. One sheet of ice in Greenland does not a good indicator of climate trends make. To use your excuse for the ice data being weak (One season (datum point) doesn’t define a trend)

    Do you have any idea how much ice would have to melt to raise the ocean 10 feet, considering 2/3 of the surface of the Earth is covered by the oceans (salt water)? Don’t forget the volume of water as a solid is larger then it is when it is a liquid.

    Approx. radius of the Earth = 3,959 miles
    Are for finding the surface area of a sphere ————- A = 4 Pi r(squared) = 196,861,432 sq. miles X 2/3 = 131 million miles

    Approx. 131 million square miles is the surface area of the oceans, now add 10 feet or 3 meters on top of that, where is all that ice going to come from? Do you global warming/cooling/change alarmists ever do the math? Never mind that the 10 feet in rise will expand the 131 million square miles with every inch it rises as it covers more and more low lying land.

    Have fun with the math!

  • Charles Barnard

    Sorry, I think you are intelligent, but ignorant.

    Please learn more science, what knowledge you display is correct, but incomplete.

    Look up icebergs and ice and physics and you will find that the amount of water displaced by ice is the same as the amount displaced by the melt water from the ice.

    Your first paragraph makes it clear you didn’t understand what I wrote.

    The next to assume that I haven’t done my homework.

    I may be an alarmist, but I assure you,most people following this are far, far more conservative than I am…they follow the models, I follow the data.

    Your last statement is either an incredibly inaccurate projection or a fabrication. In any case, it’s spurious and wrong.

    You;’re first mistake is to assume that the sources you quoted, third hand, are both complete and accurate, and they are neither.

    Go study. Let me know when you have learnt a bit more physics.

    Just a quick question I use to determine physics knowledge: How many seconds behind the car in front of you do you drive?

  • Chris Hogan

    You did not answer a single question I asked, oh wait, I only asked one question. As usual, ones without the answer or a clue, ignore that which they can’t overcome and ask some obscure question which has nothing to do with reality or the topic at hand just to make YOU think you are the judge and jury of someone’s intelligence.

    So I’ll ask again, where is all that ice located now that will raise the oceans 10 feet? If you are the know all you claim, this should be an easy answer for you to find, IF there is that much ice available.

  • Charles Barnard

    I’m not in the habit of answering questions which have already been answered in the discussion.

    And the answer is quite easy to locate online.

    Unless you want to pay me to do such basic research for you, I’m finished with you.

    You have made your mind up already without bothering to do any actual digging into the data or research which has been done, and now you are asking silly questions based upon popular articles written to sell papers–the answers are out there, they are easy to locate, I have said all that is necessary for you to answer your questions and more.

    Heck, search by may name and these questions have been answered elsewhere by me.

    There is a reason good hackers don’t answer silly questions asked by people who are to lazy to bother to look for an answer that already exists.

    I must be getting old, bothering to try to educate the intentionally ignorant…oh, wait, I’m grieving, and that makes people do stupid things.

    Because you are capable of actually writing in complete sentences and paragraphs, I made the mistake of thinking you were also capable of thought…perhaps I was right; but if there is any benefit from this thread, it will more likely come to someone else who reads it, or perhaps only this recognition of a waste of my effort, save to the extent that it focuses my own thoughts.

    Good bye and may your ignorance, like all wise people, increase.

  • Chris Hogan

    The true elitist attitude just reared it’s ugly head. I have not made up my mind whether there is enough ice to do what you suggest it would do if it melted. You assumed that, then you turned into the condescending type of person that has to resort to personal attacks. The world will be a better place when your attitude and mentality dies off like the dinosaurs. If you refuse to carry on a civil discussion don’t participate.
    Good day.

  • Charles Barnard

    As I said. I told you where the ice is. I’ll make an exception for you, since you claim not to have already made up your mind, and remind you: Thwaites glacier complex.

    I am not making a personal attack in stating the obvious: you have not bothered to do any work or research, and it is not difficult. Start with what is happening at Thwaites, for that is the most immediate danger,.

    You seem to automatically assume that anyone who gets tired of your unresearched questions and refers you to actual facts rather than providing you with answers is somehow being ‘superior’–that’s not it my friend, the problem is that people who ask questions and then reject answers or directions to answers are generally not interested in any answer which doesn’t fit their preconceptions.

    If this isn’t you, apologies are in order, but your statements fit the pattern.

    Spend less time on that chip on your shoulder and more time on research, come back with some sort of question showing you’ve looked at the actual data, and I’ll be happy to proceed.

    In the mean time, nearly everything I have said here is, as I said, elsewhere. Seek and you shall find…and hopefully have a question which will indeed show that there isn’t enough ice. If so, I will be one of the first to congratulate you.

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