Editor's note: The following summary represents state and utility stances after the Supreme Court stayed the Clean Power Plan in February 2016.
Ohio EPA Director Craig Butler praised the Supreme Court stay of the Clean Power Plan, but the state has not followed others opposed to the U.S. EPA rule and suspended work on possible compliance options.
"The Supreme Court got it right. The state of Ohio has pointed out the serious legal shortcomings of the federal Clean Power Plan on numerous occasions. We will evaluate the decision and determine how it will impact our plans moving forward," Butler said Feb. 10.
The agency had planned five regional listening sessions on the rule for early 2016, but whether they will occur is unclear.
Ohio would need to lower its power-sector carbon emissions rate 36 percent by 2030. That's a tougher goal than the roughly 28 percent decrease the state was assigned in U.S. EPA's draft rule.
Ohio's final emissions rate is 1,190 pounds of CO2 per megawatt-hour, compared with 1,338 pounds of CO2/MWh in the draft rule.
The Clean Power Plan likely would have a major impact on Ohio's electricity generation, because the Buckeye State is very coal-dependent. Coal-fired power plants account for nearly two-thirds of Ohio's overall energy production, with natural gas making up a small but growing percentage.
Ohio is one of the top carbon-emitting states in the country, according to the Department of Energy.
Before the stay, Columbus-based American Electric Power Co. Inc. -- a major operator of coal-fueled power plants -- had projected a significant drop in those units' production. Coal plants account for 60 percent of the utility's 32,000 megawatts of generation capacity, and AEP expected that to drop to 45 percent by 2026.
"I don't think the stay changes the projection," said John McManus, AEP's vice president for environmental services. "That is based on existing rules we know about and assumptions based on natural gas prices, electricity market prices and customer demand.
"It does not include any compliance assumptions of the CPP."
However, AEP, like other utilities, does include in its projections an implicit price for carbon, which gives a competitive edge to non-carbon sources like nuclear and renewable power. AEP assumes there will be a carbon abatement program for power plants.
"The implementation of the rule is stayed until its ultimate resolution, but that doesn't prevent a state from doing something proactively, moving forward on its own," McManus said.
In 2014, Gov. John Kasich (R) signed a law freezing for two years the state's standards for renewable energy and energy efficiency, creating a committee to study the costs and benefits of the policies before lawmakers consider re-enacting them in 2017.
Samantha Williams, a staff attorney and policy advocate with the Natural Resources Defense Council, said the standards are critical to achieving Ohio's Clean Power Plan goals at low cost, according to an analysis by NRDC.
Last updated on May 13, 2016 at 5:50 PM