Texas could suffer rolling power outages from grid unreliability caused by new EPA regulations that would shut down coal plants, Texas Public Utility Commission (PUC) chair, Donna Nelson, said on Aug. 19th. Last month, the rabidly anti-growth Environmental Protection [sic] Agency promulgated new rules mandating more stringent reductions of nitrogen oxide and sulfur emissions, effecting mainly coal-burning power plants, in 27 states. It would cost more than $100 billion for utilities to purchase the equipment to retrofit power plants to meet the new regulations, and the EPA is requiring compliance with the new standards IN SIX MONTHS. The utilities say this is impossible to do, and the PUC agrees that the schedule is impossible to meet. Nationwide, it is expected that utilities will simply shut down AT LEAST 81MW of older coal-burning generating plants—about 8% of total capacity—rather than try to bring them in to compliance. Today's Washington Post reports that the EPA has yet more new rules to reduce mercury and other emissions in the pipeline, over the next 18 months.
Last Fall, the North American Electric Reliability Council warned that both the "pace and aggressiveness of these environmental regulations should be adjusted to reflect and consider the overall risk to the bulk power system." More than two-thirds of all U.S. coal-burning plants are more than 30 years old, and only about 35% have pollution controls that comply with clean air regulations. The rest are now potential targets for shut down. Sen. Lisa Murkowski, (D-Alaska), chair of the Senate Energy and Natural Resources Committee, joined by others from coal states, has protested the EPA actions.
These old coal plants should have been replaced by nuclear plants decades ago. Shutting them now, for supposed "environmental" concerns puts the entire, interconnected electricity grid at great risk.