ABSTRACT

EPA Regulations and Electricity: Better Monitoring by Agencies Could Strengthen Efforts to Address Potential Challenges, Report to the Chairman, Committee on Commerce, Science, and Transportation, U.S. Senate   [open pdf - 3MB]

"EPA [Environmental Protection Agency] recently proposed or finalized four regulations affecting coal-fueled electricity generating units, which provide almost half of the electricity in the United States: (1) the Cross-State Air Pollution Rule; (2) the Mercury and Air Toxics Standards; (3) the proposed Cooling Water Intake Structures regulation; and (4) the proposed Disposal of Coal Combustion Residuals regulation. Power companies may retrofit or retire some units in response to the regulations. EPA estimated two of the regulations would prevent thousands of premature deaths and generate $160-$405 billion in annual benefits. Some stakeholders have expressed concerns that these regulations could increase electricity prices and compromise reliability--the ability to meet consumers' demand. FERC [Federal Energy Regulatory Commission] and others have oversight over electricity prices and reliability. DOE [Department of Energy] can order a generating unit to run in certain emergencies. GAO [Government Accountability Office] was asked to examine: (1) actions power companies may take in response to these regulations; (2) their potential electricity market and reliability implications; and (3) the extent to which these implications can be mitigated. GAO reviewed agency documents, selected studies, and interviewed stakeholders. […] GAO recommends, among other things, that FERC, DOE, and EPA take additional steps to monitor industry's progress in responding to the regulations. DOE and EPA agreed with this recommendation, and FERC disagreed with this and another recommendation. GAO continues to believe that it is important for FERC to take the recommended actions."

Report Number:
GAO-12-635
Publisher:
Date:
2012-07
Copyright:
Public Domain
Retrieved From:
Government Accountability Office: http://www.gao.gov/
Format:
pdf
Media Type:
application/pdf
URL:
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