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EPA Emissions Proposal May Prompt Investment In Clean Technologies, Push Toward Natural Gas

Arnoldius via http://commons.wikimedia.org/wiki/File:Coal_power_plant_Knepper_1.jpg

Advocates and industry leaders are beginning to digest the EPA’s proposed rule package on carbon emissions for power plants.  The plan would require Wisconsin power plants to cut carbon dioxide emissions by an average of 34 percent between 2005 and 2030. 

Keith Reopelle of Clean Wisconsin says the proposed changes are modest ones, and will be economic drivers for clean energy alternatives to fossil fuels.

“Wisconsin doesn’t have any fossil fuels so that’s a good thing for Wisconsin. We do on the other hand have a lot of manufacturing infrastructure that already produces a lot of components for example, for wind turbines and solar panels, and those types of newer, cleaner technologies.”

Reopelle also points out that each state will have flexibility in implementing the new rules.  And he thinks most of Wisconsin’s power plants won’t have to change much.  He speculates most of the impact will come through investing in clean energy and energy efficiency.

“And then utilizing some of the cleaner plants more. So in other words some of our power plants that run on natural gas or cleaner fuels might be run at a higher level, and then some of the older dirtier coal plants would probably be run less.”

Wisconsin Public Service says it’s too soon to how the rules will impact its facilities.  Spokesperson Leah Van Zile does say the company has already taken steps to reduce power plant pollutants. 

“I mean as far as emissions, when comparing WPS’s carbon dioxide emission from 2005 to 2014…emissions are expected to be about 18 percent less. In addition, our longterm plan already includes further reducing our carbon intensity.”

Van Zile says WPS has recently acquired Fox Energy center, a natural gas power plant that emits half as much carbon dioxide as an equivalent coal plant.   

WPS is also retiring its oldest Weston coal burning unit near Wausau, and is working on installing new pollution control measures on another.  

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