Editor's note: The following summary represents state and utility stances after the Supreme Court stayed the Clean Power Plan in February 2016.
Georgia, which held several stakeholder meetings to discuss how it would slash its power-sector carbon emissions rate, suspended all work on a plan following a Supreme Court decision to stay the rule, according to the state's Environmental Protection Division.
The state has "stopped planning entirely because of the stay," Bill Edge, a spokesman for the state's Public Service Commission (PSC), confirmed in April.
All five commissioners oppose the rule, along with every level of state government, he said.
But while Georgia's Environmental Protection Division has said it has ceased all work, electric regulators aren't off the hook, added Sheree Kernizan, electric unit director for the commission.
Kernizan said that as part of its "normal course of business," the commission still must review Georgia Power Co.'s integrated resource plan, the company's long-term business blueprint that she said proposes much more renewable power (ClimateWire, April 27).
The PSC is also meeting with other Southeastern states as part of Duke University's Nicholas Institute for Environmental Policy Solutions, to look at modeling and power-sector data.
Before the stay, Kernizan said, "we had been meeting, meeting, meeting just furiously, every week almost, getting ready for outreach for the [Clean Energy Incentive Program] and doing all that planning."
"We were already on track under the proposed rules to kind of meet the goals anyway -- without doing anything -- and this was prior to the 2016 [integrated resource plan] that was filed this year," Kernizan said. "And they're talking about adding more renewables, continuing the energy efficiency programs that have been in place."
U.S. EPA granted Georgia its biggest wish -- allowing the state to count two under-construction nuclear reactors toward compliance. But the state's largest group of municipalities and electric cooperatives argue that EPA should include nuclear and other emissions-free electricity in its optional incentive program designed to encourage states to build wind and solar energy generation and install energy efficiency measures in low-income communities between 2020 and 2022.
Georgia Air Protection Branch Chief Karen Hays said her agency would support expanding the Clean Energy Incentive Program (CEIP) to include nuclear (EnergyWire, Jan. 26).
The state must cut its power-sector carbon emissions rate 34 percent from 2012 levels by 2030. That is a significant change from the original target of 44 percent. Georgia is on track to surpass an initial goal to reduce carbon emissions from its power sector, a state air official said at a January stakeholder meeting (EnergyWire, Jan. 8).
The two reactors at Plant Vogtle, however, will be key in meeting goals. They currently are expected to start producing power at the end of 2019 and 2020.
Despite EPA adjusting the state's targets, Georgia was among 27 states that filed lawsuits challenging the rule when it was published in the Federal Register.
Georgia regulators have loudly criticized the rule, but they also have expressed some interest in using a carbon market to comply. The Public Service Commission also wants EPA to clarify how much of the state's rich timber resources it can use to meet its goals (EnergyWire, Nov. 13, 2015).
Georgia's Environmental Protection Division (EPD) had held stakeholder meetings and was planning more (EnergyWire, Sept. 29, 2015).
Because of Georgia's rapidly growing solar industry, members of the state's clean energy community urged officials to submit a state plan at least by 2017. This would ensure more time to take advantage of the CEIP. The state is pursuing whether there are other options such as pre-qualifying certain renewable energy and energy efficiency projects as a way to make the process go more quickly.
The state plan will likely require changes to the state rules for air quality control. The Board of Natural Resources would need to adopt those changes before EPD submits a state plan to EPA.
Last updated on April 27, 2016 at 12:13 PM