The Environmental Protection Agency’s proposed Clean Power Plan (CPP), published in June 2014, raises substantial operational challenges for regional transmission organizations (RTOs). In the CPP, EPA specifies emission reduction targets for 49 of the 50 states, based on EPA’s modeling that purportedly shows that each state can achieve the specified reduction targets through the use of four “building blocks.” States are to develop plans to meet the targets between 2020 and 2030, and are offered “flexibility” to use any combination of the four building blocks specified and/or other means (if approved by EPA) to achieve these targets. The State plans – required by June 30, 2016 (unless an extension is granted) - must specify how each state intends to meet the targets.
While there are many issues, questions and concerns with the ability of states and utilities to meet EPA’s emission reduction targets based on the use of EPA’s four building blocks (or through other means), building block 2, in particular, raises substantial issues for systems operators and RTO/ISO market operations because it involves changing the current methods of how electricity is dispatched throughout the nation’s bulk power systems.
Either FERC or the states have always overseen how security constrained economic dispatch is conducted to maintain reliability while cost-effectively serving customers. But, if EPA’s proposed rule becomes final, it, and not the system operators that federal and state regulators have entrusted, will make such critical decisions for our nation’s utility customers regardless of costs.