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The EPA Delays Carbon Standard – What Does It Mean for Our Energy Choices?

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State decisions on new power plants are even more critical while the EPA holds back its release of carbon standards for new power plants.

How big is your state’s role?

This post is part of a series on Ramping Up Renewables: Clean Energy Policies to Watch in 2013.

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The states have always had much more to say — and much greater influence — over power plant decisions because they control several pieces of the puzzle:

  • States adopt renewable and clean energy standards. In 29 states and the District of Columbia, state law requires a portfolio of power plant types, with a requirement some fraction of power come from alternative, renewable, or low-carbon technology. This has been good policy for the average consumer from the beginning of such policies when Iowa sought wind development in its state. Carbon emissions and fuel costs are lower for everyone due to these policies. Tell your state legislator the most powerful energy policy at state level is a clean energy standard.
  • States guide funding of energy efficiency.  Cost-effective energy savings opportunities are everywhere in existing buildings and homes. States, not the Federal government, decide how much will be spent on utility programs to improve energy efficiency, and how to bring those savings to low-income customers. Where $1 spent on reducing heating and cooling bills saves $2.57 for consumers, AND reduces CO2 emissions, AND lowers the cost for future grid and power plant needs, every state has plenty to do right now on this. Your public utility commissioners and governor should hear about this, from you.
  • States approve nuclear plant costs. In the few examples of private companies building new nuclear plants, the state has shifted the costs to utility customers. Since nuclear plant construction costs have been tremendously difficult to predict, and delays add cost and cash flow problems, states favoring the nuclear choice assure the owner’s revenues will come from consumers long before the plant is completed and producing electricity.

Your day has come

There are a few ways we can make energy choices while the the EPA works through its delay. In addition to the points to raise with state decision-makers described above, you can be a decision maker in your own home.

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About the author: Michael Jacobs is a senior energy analyst with expertise in electricity markets, transmission and renewables integration work. See Mike's full bio.

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