Delay Urged in Obama Carbon Rules to Shield Electric Grid

The Obama administration’s plan to cut carbon emissions threatens the nation’s electricity supply by forcing old coal plants to shut before replacement power is in place, the group that oversees the U.S. electric system said.

The North American Electric Reliability Corp., a nonprofit that assures adequate voltage and power reserves to keep the electric grid functioning, urged the Environmental Protection Agency to consider delaying the first deadline.

“The proposed timeline does not provide enough time to develop sufficient resources to ensure continued reliable operation of the electric grid by 2020,” according to the report from the utility-funded regulator scheduled for release today. “More time for implementation may be needed to accommodate reliability enhancements.”

President Barack Obama’s plan to combat global warming is built around the EPA’s carbon plan, which would require a 30 percent cut in emissions by 2030. The plan is designed to replace coal as the chief source for electricity generation with increased use of natural gas, renewable power and energy efficiency measures.

The emissions plan will have wide-ranging effects on utilities, forcing changes that will upend models used for a century for generation and distribution of electricity.

Time Needed

The 27-page report NERC released today warned that reducing coal in generation means utilities need to build pipelines to plants using gas to make electricity. The EPA is also overly optimistic about the potential for renewable energy and energy efficiency measures, it said.

“Based on NERC’s initial review, more time would be needed in certain areas to ensure resource adequacy, reliability requirements, and infrastructure needs are maintained,” the report said.

The EPA said that 40 years of clean-air actions have come without any instances of causing the lights to go out.

EPA’s analysis “finds that the proposal would not raise significant concerns over regional resource adequacy or raise the potential for interregional grid problems,” according to an e-mailed statement. “EPA is also continuing to seek ideas and comments on the proposal as we work toward a final rule that is flexible and empowers states to chart their own, customized path.”

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