The Edmond Sun

Business

June 23, 2014

Supreme Court affirms part of EPA’s greenhouse gas

EDMOND — Consumers likely will have higher utility bills due to a court decision that places conditions on EPA power plant regulations, but just how high is not yet known, a local administrator said.

Monday’s U.S. Supreme Court 5-4 ruling gives the U.S Environmental Protection Agency conditional authority to require greenhouse gas controls on large stationary sources of pollution such as power plants. The court put limits on the agency, however, in trying to expand its regulatory power to other entities that could emit greenhouse gases such as shopping centers and schools.

On June 2, the federal agency released its Clean Power Plan proposal, which for the first time cuts carbon pollution from existing power plants, the single largest source of carbon pollution in the U.S.

Power plants account for roughly a third of all domestic greenhouse gas emissions, according to the EPA. Obama administration officials said the plan will protect public health, move the U.S. toward a cleaner environment and fight climate change while supplying Americans with reliable and affordable power.

The potential new carbon regulations would cause an average 224,000 fewer U.S. jobs annually through 2030, force U.S. consumers to pay $289 billion more for electricity through 2030 and lower total disposable income for U.S. households by $586 billion through 2030, according to an analysis released last month by the U.S. Chamber of Commerce’s Institute for 21st Century Energy.

Locally, Edmond Electric is a member of the Oklahoma Municipal Power Authority, a quasi-state agency that provides low-cost, wholesale electricity to cities and towns that own their own electric systems. Its power supply comes from resources such as wind, hydroelectric, natural gas and coal-fired power plants including the Red Rock Power Plant.

Drake Rice, OMPA’s director of member services, said the court decision will most likely mean higher utility bills for customers, but the exact impact is not immediately known. The agency will be analyzing the local impact, Rice said.

“We will have to comply,” he said.

Rice said the OMPA has been proactive in complying with rules and regulations.

Edmond’s residential rates are up to 7 percent less than other metro area electric utilities. Edmond Electric customers pay competitive rates and enjoy outstanding reliability, officials say.

Oklahoma was one of the states challenging the EPA’s attempt to expand its authority under the Clean Air Act. Attorney General Scott Pruitt said in this case the EPA clearly overstepped its authority.

This ruling by the Supreme Court preserves the state’s authority under the Clean Air Act, he stated.

“In its ruling, the Supreme Court noted that even the EPA recognized these regulations would be an ‘unprecedented expansion of EPA authority that would have a profound effect on virtually every sector of the economy and touch every household in the land’ while still only proving to be ‘relatively ineffective at reducing greenhouse gas concentrations,’” Pruitt said.

marks@edmondsun.com | 341-2121 ext. 108

 

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