Editor's note: The following summary represents state and utility stances after the Supreme Court stayed the Clean Power Plan in February 2016.
Becky Keogh, director of the Arkansas Department of Environmental Quality, and Ted Thomas, chairman of the state's Public Service Commission, in a joint statement said they were pleased with the Supreme Court's decision to stay the Clean Power Plan and would "strive to balance our obligation to be wise stewards of taxpayer money with our obligation to be fully prepared should the Supreme Court ultimately uphold the plan."
The agencies, in a Feb. 12 message to stakeholders, sought feedback on how to proceed and talked of further engagement on a timeline and in a context that makes sense. They also asked whether they might be required to suspend state planning activities and how a stakeholder group might function during the stay.
But in March, Keogh confirmed her state would suspend preparations for the Clean Power Plan, making it the 19th state to halt writing an emissions reduction strategy as a result of the Supreme Court's stay.
"We want to continue to follow what's being done, but we will not be taking steps to be doing any implementation of a rule that the courts have found to be put in a position of a stay," Keogh said.
She added that the state will continue looking at private-sector modeling on the rule.In a statement, the PSC and DEQ said the state will still hold "a technical session on energy sector modeling later this year."
Arkansas Gov. Asa Hutchinson (R) has expressed major reservations about EPA's carbon rule, citing the potential to boost electric rates while having a minimal effect on global temperatures.
Under the rule, Arkansas would need to cut its power-sector carbon emissions rate about 38 percent below 2012 levels by 2030, compared with an earlier target of about 44 percent.
An important factor is Arkansas' Act 382 of 2015 and the procedure it created for the Clean Power Plan. Spencer said the act doesn't require a state plan but notes that such an approach is preferred to a federal one.
State officials have talked of seeking a least-cost option. Spencer said state legislators or the governor would need to support an Arkansas state plan.
Arkansas has held meetings and conference calls featuring government, environmental and business interests. Discussions touched on areas such as carbon trading and what approach to take, with mass-based planning garnering a good deal of support. Arkansas plans more meetings this year, including in March.
Chuck Barlow, speaking for Entergy Corp., a major power provider, said in January that Arkansas doesn't necessarily need to feel pressure to get complicated work finished by September if it can pull together an extension request.
Steve Patterson, executive director of the Arkansas Advanced Energy Association, said last year that options such as energy efficiency, natural gas and renewable energy could help the state in meeting carbon reduction goals.
At the Arkansas Electric Cooperative Corp., Sandra Byrd, vice president of public affairs and member services, wishes the Clean Power Plan did not exist.
But if the rule survives legal challenges, she said the rate impact could be manageable for cooperative members, in part because of energy efficiency, renewables, low-cost natural gas and the potential closure of some coal-fired generation.
Last updated on May 13, 2016 at 5:53 PM