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Commonwealth Can Keep Lights On, Meet Clean Power Plan

PHOTO: A new report says Massachussets residents don't have to worry about reliability of the power grid as the state adopts the EPA Clean Power Plan to reduce carbon emissions from power plants. Photo courtesy Wikimedia Commmons
PHOTO: A new report says Massachussets residents don't have to worry about reliability of the power grid as the state adopts the EPA Clean Power Plan to reduce carbon emissions from power plants. Photo courtesy Wikimedia Commmons
February 23, 2015

BOSTON – It won't be a problem keeping the lights on as Massachusetts adopts the Environmental Protection Agency’s Clean Power Plan, according to a new report by a Boston consulting firm that focuses on reliability.

Sharon Reishus is an energy industry analyst based in New England and a former Maine Public Utilities Commissioner. She agrees with the Analysis Group report that there are numerous ways the industry will be able to ensure that the electric grid stays reliable, even as states adopt the EPA's Clean Power Plan to reduce carbon pollution from power plants.

"And the report suggests that, you know, there's a strong history of reliability that's already been provided by our regional transmission organizations,” she points out. “Likewise in New England – states have a long history of keeping the lights on. They're ready to go forward to do that."

Critics fear the plan will be inflexible, but Reishus says the EPA is already offering a wide range of compliance options allowing states to meet their needs.

The plan sets a target of reducing carbon emissions from the power sector in Massachusetts by 38 percent by 2030.

Susan Tierney, a senior adviser with the Analysis Group, says some of the reliability concerns about the Clean Power Plan are based on worst-case scenarios that assume policymakers, regulators, and power providers will take too long to respond to problems. She says history shows otherwise.

"We have an electric industry that is so mission-oriented that it's just a false premise to think that they're going to stand around and let the problem happen,” Tierney explains. “They're going to do something ahead of time."

Reishus points out New England already has a regional transmission organization that will help ease the transition to the Clean Power Plan. She says the Regional Green Gas Initiative (RGGI) is also a plus because many other states are still figuring out compliance issues.

"How will they comply – will they choose to go state-by-state, which they are allowed to do, and that's going to be the most difficult – or will they comply as a group?” she states. “You know, New England has a huge advantage, because there already is a carbon-trading program in place with RGGI."


Mike Clifford, Public News Service - MA