SPP power grid raises questions about EPA’s greenhouse gas emissions rule



The Southwest Power Pool, the power grid controlling Oklahoma and 13 other states,  joined others in raising questions about the impact of a final greenhouse gas emissions rule issued by the Environmental Protection Agency.

In a recent statement, the SPP “asserts the EPA rule could negatively impact the nation’s ability to provide consumers reliable electric service in the interest of a swift transition from fossil fuels to renewable energy, particularly during a time when additional generating capacity is already needed to ensure the reliable supply of energy.”

Rule 2023-0072, finalized by the EPA on April 25, is meant to curb greenhouse gas emissions at power plants through new performance standards. However, though wind is the number one source of energy in its 14-state region, the grid operator underscored in its statement to stakeholders that controllable or “dispatchable” energy sources like coal and natural gas remain necessary to meet the ever-growing demand for electricity.

SPP appreciates efforts by federal officials to address concerns that it communicated to the EPA last year in response to the agency’s initial notice of proposed rulemaking. The final rule takes into account the RTOs’ concerns regarding natural gas availability, state-specific flexibility and timeline extensions for retiring generators, among other things. Despite these concessions, concerns about future production capacity remain among those in the power-providing sector, including SPP.

SPP’s statement questions the feasibility of implementing the carbon capture and sequestration process by the rule’s deadline and the reasonableness of optional requirements for volumes of natural gas, which may not be available to individual producers. SPP also noted that the need to ensure the reliable delivery of power is becoming both more critical and complex given the increasing frequency of extreme weather events and increasing demand for electricity, among other factors.

“Our mission, and our charge from the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission, is to strive to continuously keep the lights on today and tomorrow throughout our region,” said Lanny Nickell, chief operating officer at SPP.

“We take our duty to the 18 million people in our footprint very seriously, and we fear that the EPA rule will induce or impose actions that conflict with that duty. At the minimum, it presents serious complications for SPP and our members that may be insurmountable.”

Source: SPP press release