As the surprise settles over this week's Supreme Court decision to stay the Clean Power Plan, stakeholders are considering next steps including, for many, whether to proceed with compliance. On today's The Cutting Edge, EnergyWire reporter Rod Kuckro discusses his latest reporting on the behind-the-scenes planning at the state, industry and agency levels.
Monica Trauzzi: Welcome to The Cutting Edge. As the shock settles over this week's Supreme Court decision to stay the Clean Power Plan, stakeholders are now considering next steps, including for many whether to continue to comply. EnergyWire's Rod Kuckro joins me with his latest reporting on stakeholder discussions. Rod, what are the options for states right now and what are the trends that you see emerging among states in their discussions?
Rod Kuckro: Well, the states really have two choices. One is they can continue as if the stay didn't occur and they can continue working on a path towards compliance in case the stay is not successful and that the Supreme Court eventually rules in favor of EPA, and there are some states doing that: Connecticut, Virginia, Colorado, Pennsylvania. They've said they're ready to do a plan. Delaware almost has their plan finished. But then other states -- North Dakota, Montana, Arizona, Utah -- have already said, "We're taking a pause." Now whether that has any real effect, though, in their states is questionable because the utilities are still moving ahead. And we learned this just yesterday, where E&E covered a meeting of the state electricity regulators, air regulators, and energy office heads for all 50 states, and the consensus there is that there's prudency moving ahead just so they're ready in case the rule survives.
Monica Trauzzi: Right. And the other thing is the utility mantra has always been, "We need certainty," and continuing on the path sort of ensures a certain level of certainty. So your sense is that many utilities are staying the course.
Rod Kuckro: We had seven reporters working on a story this week. We looked at 25 different utility players. And almost to a company they're all going ahead. In fact we had some great reporting from our colleague Saqib Rahim in New York where he was at a meeting where utility officials met with Wall Street analysts. And EEI, the investor-owned utility lobby, their executive said, "This doesn't change a thing." And in fact the key quote he had was great. He said, "You don't simply put the genie back in the bottle when it comes to major strategic investments that the captains of industry are making." I mean, they're already moving on that path, and they're going to go ahead for this reason, Monica: They want to be able to monetize all these improvements that they can make in distribution, transmission and clean energy investment, and they can blame it on EPA.
Monica Trauzzi: You were at an event yesterday with EPA Administrator Gina McCarthy, and she's always pretty candid with her comments and thoughts. What did she have to say about the court's decision and what the agency has planned next for the power plan and emissions reduction?
Rod Kuckro: Well, she was not just candid; she was combative. Now of course she was in front of a very friendly audience, but the takeaway was -- she said that EPA is confident that the rule has firm legal grounding and that it will be eventually upheld and that the stay does not preclude EPA from moving ahead on all sorts of fronts to continue down this path supporting clean energy. In particular she invited these state officials I referenced earlier to come to her and voluntarily ask for EPA's help. She does not see that as being something precluded by the stay. So what you may have happen is two classes of states will emerge over the next six months: those that want to move ahead out of prudency and those that fall farther behind and that could be left sort of holding the bag if the rule's upheld in 2017.
Monica Trauzzi: So one year ago this week E&E launched its Clean Power Plan Hub, and it's really become an essential tool for anyone involved in Clean Power Plan discussions. How has the hub been updated this week, and what do you have planned moving forward as we head into litigation?
Rod Kuckro: Well, we put up some new graphics this week that sort of tell users of the hub exactly what the status of legal challenges is state by state, and also whether or not the states are preparing a plan -- some states that are suing are also preparing a plan, at least they were before Tuesday. We are curating the thousands of comments that were submitted on the federal implementation plan and the model trading rules. We'll put up the best ones that we think our readers need to know about. But we essentially feel we have a good thing going. We have lots of terrific traffic on the hub every day. But basically we'll continue to track all the state processes that will give some clues to the industry and to investors as to where there's going to be money to be made, because in the end that's what this Clean Power Plan's all about.
Monica Trauzzi: It's such a great tool. I visit it all the time. Thanks for coming on the show, Rod.
Rod Kuckro: Thanks, Monica.
Monica Trauzzi: More Cutting Edge coming next Friday. We'll see you then.
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