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West Coast immigrants' rights groups pan President Trump’s new immigration proposal as “elitist.” Also on the Friday rundown: Consumer advocates want stronger energy-efficiency standards. And we'll take you to a state that ranks near the bottom for senior mental health.

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What Will EPA Clean Power Plan Mean for Tennessee?

PHOTO: The EPA says its final Clean Power Plant is coming in August, which could affect energy generation at TVA facilities like the Tellico Dam. Photo credit: Tennessee Valley Authority, Wikimedia Commons.
PHOTO: The EPA says its final Clean Power Plant is coming in August, which could affect energy generation at TVA facilities like the Tellico Dam. Photo credit: Tennessee Valley Authority, Wikimedia Commons.
June 2, 2015

NASHVILLE, Tenn. - The EPA is expected to issue its final rules on greenhouse gas limits for power plants in August. According to published reports, the government is targeting a 30 percent reduction in greenhouse gases by 2030.

Dian Grueneich, a research scholar in energy efficiency at Stanford University, says based upon her research it isn't just the environment that wins with cleaner energy.

"Addressing and reducing carbon emissions is critical," she says. "It will help states get on a solid economic and job growth path if the transition from fossil fuels to a cleaner system is done thoughtfully."

Opponents of the Clean Power Plan say consumers and businesses will pay higher electric bills as a result. Some states have indicated they will attempt to "opt out" of the EPA plan. At this point, Tennessee is not among them – but some lawmakers are calling on the state to do so.

Ken Colburn is a senior associate with the Regulatory Assistance Project, an international organization that advises public officials on utility policies. He says Tennessee's policymakers should keep an open mind.

"What I would advise they do is to look at the broad sweep of opportunities and options available to them," he says, "as opposed to just having a narrow horizon about the way the Clean Air Act has always been done and about how 'bad' this is going to be for existing facilities."

The American Council for an Energy Efficient Environment ranks Tennessee 38th in the country for its energy-efficiency efforts, and the state also gets low marks from the Tennessee Valley Authority. Grueneich says it's important to remember energy-efficiency savings can add up over time for residents, businesses and the state overall.

"Even though we think of energy-efficiency as an individual thing, maybe going into one building, millions of people are doing it across the United States," says Colburn. "That's why you have these enormous savings."

According to a report from Syracuse University, there are also health benefits to cleaner energy generation. Researchers estimate 1,200 lives could be saved in the Volunteer State between 2020 and 2030, provided a tougher power plant carbon standard is implemented to reduce soot and smog.

Stephanie Carson, Public News Service - TN