Experts Say Biden’s Climate Rule Could Cause Massive Outages

According to several industry groups, the new rule enacted by the Biden administration, which seeks to bring about significant changes in electricity production methods employed by power companies nationwide, is said to increase the likelihood of power outages.

According to a report by Politico, the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) released new carbon pollution standards on Thursday. These standards would require utilities to make a decision before 2040 on whether to shut down coal and gas plants that contribute significantly to carbon dioxide emissions.

Alternatively, power companies have the option to retrofit their existing coal or gas plants with carbon capture technology or incorporate cleaner-burning hydrogen into their gas operations.

The agency said the “new proposed standards for coal and new natural gas-fired power plants would avoid more than 600 million metric tons of CO2 pollution while also preventing 300,000 asthma attacks and 1,300 premature deaths in 2030 alone.”

The newly introduced standards encompass a range of measures, including the reinforcement of the existing New Source Performance Standards (NSPS) for newly constructed fossil fuel-fired stationary combustion turbines, primarily those powered by natural gas.

EPA Administrator Michael Regan expressed his endorsement of the newly implemented regulations in a statement saying, “By proposing new standards for fossil fuel-fired power plants, EPA is delivering on its mission to reduce harmful pollution that threatens people’s health and well-being. EPA’s proposal relies on proven, readily available technologies to limit carbon pollution and seizes the momentum already underway in the power sector to move toward a cleaner future.”

The power producers nationwide criticized the new standards, cautioning that they pose a risk to the reliability of the power grid. They argue that the accelerated retirement of older gas and coal-powered plants, as mandated by the standards, could outpace the current rate at which such plants are being decommissioned, potentially compromising the stability of the power network.

According to a report from Politico, power outages hit a record high in 2020 and have continued to increase. In 2021, the average person experienced approximately seven hours without electricity, compared to an average of four hours in 2013.

According to Todd Snitchler, the president and CEO of the Electric Power Supply Association, representing plant owners, numerous coal plants have already been closed since 2015 following the release of the power climate rule by the Obama administration.

Despite the rule not being enforced, Snitchler highlights that the new regulations will further reduce the number of remaining coal plants, which are already scarce in number.

Snitchler said, “We’ve already got reliability concerns. You don’t have anything today that can replace the gas that could retire. The lights are gonna go out if the weather gets worse, and so that’s something that EPA and the Department of Energy and everyone else is well aware of.”