Pennsylvania Carbon Pricing Wars Continue – The Latest On RGGI
PPA has been following the progress of Gov. Wolf’s proposal to reduce carbon pollution from power plants consistent with the Regional Greenhouse Gas Initiative by putting a price on carbon. Here’s a short update on where it stands.
Senate Republicans are holding fast to their position that they will not confirm any of the Governor’s nominations to the Public Utility Commission– completely unrelated to the fight over carbon pollution– until Gov. Wolf withdraws his proposal to reduce carbon pollution from power plants consistent with the Regional Greenhouse Gas Initiative (RGGI). Read more here.
In response, Gov. Wolf earlier withdrew his nominees for the PUC, Health, Education, Labor and Industry, State, Human Services, the Adjutant General and the Physician General and has not resubmitted any in their place. You can check the Executive Nominations Calendar yourself.
Taking Away DEP Authority
House Republicans, following their Senate colleagues, will move legislation– House Bill 637 (Struzzi-R-Indiana)– out of committee Tuesday to take away DEP’s authority to adopt carbon pollution reduction programs covering power plants or from any other source. Read more here.
A companion bill– Senate Bill 119 (Pittman-R-Indiana)– is already in the Senate Appropriations Committee and may move to the full Senate as well.
Gov. Wolf vetoed identical legislation last September. Read more here.
There are only four conventional coal-fired power plants left online in Pennsylvania that don’t have plans to retire or convert to other fuels. Nineteen have already closed or converted to other fuels long before this legislation or the RGGI regulation was proposed. Read more here.
Last week, Sen. Carolyn Comitta (D-Chester) announced plans to introduce legislation to invest the estimated $300 million in proceeds generated from the carbon reduction program in efforts to help communities and workers during the transition to clean energy, environmental justice areas and other initiatives to promote energy efficiency and renewable energy. Read more here.
July EQB Consideration
DEP continues down the path of putting the final regulation setting up its carbon pollution reduction program covering power plants in front of the Environmental Quality Board for a vote in July.
Four DEP advisory committees voted to recommend DEP move ahead with the final regulation last month, in contrast to negative recommendations from many of these same committees on the original version of the regulation. Read more here.
Energy Markets Speak
The energy markets spoke again last week on which energy generation sources it prefers through the PJM Interconnection power auction to assure electric power supplies across 13 states and the District of Columbia, including Pennsylvania. Read more here.
Coal-fired power plants were the biggest losers in the auction market clearing 8,175 MW less power than during the last auction.
Nuclear power (carbon free) was a big winner with natural gas (less carbon) coming in second. Solar and wind energy generation (carbon free) also picked up more of the power market as well. Read more here.
The overall cost of electricity dropped by $4.4 billion since the last auction– from $140/MW-day to $50/MW-day. Read more here.
Competition with, first, natural gas to generate electricity has driven 19 coal-fired power plants out of operation in Pennsylvania– before the RGGI regulation was even thought of. Read more here.
There are only four conventional coal-fired power plants left online in Pennsylvania that don’t have plans to retire or convert to other fuels. Read more here.
Projections show the remaining coal-fired power plants in Pennsylvania will also close, due to competition with natural gas and increasingly renewables, with or without the RGGI rule.
Natural gas-fired power plants are also finding themselves under more competitive pressure from renewables.
Vistra Corp– a major developer of natural gas power plants in Pennsylvania and elsewhere– announced two weeks ago it will not build any more natural gas plants and instead invest in solar energy farms. Read more here.
The U.S. Energy Information Administration reported last week energy consumption from all sources decreased a record 7 percent in 2020 for all fuels– except for renewable energy which increased 2 percent. Read more here.
Petroleum consumption decreased 13 percent, natural gas decreased 2 percent, coal decreased 19 percent, and nuclear electric power decreased 2 percent.