Clean Power Plan: An Opportunity to Accelerate Our Clean Energy Transition
In June 2014 the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency introduced the Clean Power Plan, the first-ever standards for carbon pollution from existing power plants. Coal- and natural gas-burning plants account for about one-third of all U.S. greenhouse gas emissions.
The Clean Power Plan, finalized in August 2015, puts forward carbon emission targets for each state based on reasonable adjustments that can be made to the electric system. Meeting these targets by 2030 would cut national carbon emissions from the power sector by over 30% compared to 2005 levels.
While the plan is currently on hold pending a review by the U.S. Supreme Court, SELC continues to advocate for the country's strongest action ever to reduce carbon pollution. Not only is the plan a necessity from a public health and climate perspective, but it provides a milestone opportunity for the Southeast to make smarter choices about how we generate energy in our region and to create new jobs through clean energy investments.
State-based, flexible plan
The projected national reductions are the result of meeting the specific goals for individual states that EPA developed based on their current energy mix. Not only are the goals tailored to each state, states have considerable flexibility in how to meet them. They can use a variety of tactics, including switching to cleaner-burning natural gas, increasing reliance on wind and solar, and ratcheting up investments in energy efficiency programs.
This state-orientation and policy flexibility perfectly positions SELC to help our region meet—or exceed—the new goals cost-effectively. In fact SELC has already been working to reduce our states’ carbon emissions, and each of our states has seen encouraging progress in recent years.
Reduction of dependence on coal
Coal is the most carbon-heavy of our energy sources, and In the Southeast, SELC has been instrumental in retiring old, uneconomic coal-fired power plants: since 2010 we have helped secured plans or legally binding commitments to retire 30% of the Southeastern coal plant fleet.
Increased energy efficiency
In general the Southeast does not have the strong energy efficiency programs found in other states, so there is potential for significant regional savings on this front. Since 2005 SELC has taken part in over 100 state utility commission proceedings, in many of them highlighting the benefits of greater investments in energy efficiency.
Increased use of wind and solar power
Solar and wind power hold vast promise as clean and abundant power sources throughout the Southeast, and SELC advocacy continues to yield breakthroughs as our states commit to new solar investments, bringing new jobs to our region.
SELC is also building bipartisan state support for offshore wind energy, emphasizing its economic development and job creation potential.
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Attorneys: Katie Ottenweller, Lauren J. Bowen, David Neal, Blan Holman, Gudrun Thompson, Kurt Ebersbach, Peter Stein, Jill Kysor, Christina Andreen, Amanda Garcia