Exelon: EPA’s new carbon standards within reach

Exelon Corp., a U.S. power provider, believes that the electric industry can safely meet the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency’s (EPA) recently reduced carbon emissions standards for existing power plants at minimal cost to consumers.

The EPA's Clean Power Plan requires states to establish certain carbon emissions rate reduction targets that power plants must achieve. Ultimately, the plan would reduce national electricity sector emissions by an estimated 30 percent by 2030.

Exelon has joined other organizations, including the Edison Electric Institute, power generators, system operators, academics, environmental groups and industry trade groups, in supporting the EPA’s idea to charge companies for their carbon emissions if they do not meet the new standards.

Kathleen Barrón, the senior vice president of Exelon’s federal regulatory affairs and wholesale market policy, said during a hearing before the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission (FERC) that it's not a matter of choosing between affordable, reliable energy and greenhouse gas regulation. Instead, she said the U.S. can rely on existing structures to incentivize the use of clean energy sources.

She believes that the rules will be the provocation needed to modernize electricity companies and their aging systems. Barron said that  encouraging clean energy use will also encourage economic growth.

“We estimate that states could eliminate at least 75 percent of the rule’s impact on retail electric rates, limiting retail rate increases to 2 percent to 5 percent on a regional basis,” Barrón said. “This cost is within the range of routine customer rate increases, which averaged 3.2 percent among U.S. utilities last year.”

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