This week the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency released proposed regulations to limit carbon emissions related to power plants -- something that would ultimately reshape U.S. electricity markets.
Here are some key elements of this proposal, which is based on EPA's authority granted under the Clean Air Act:
- 2030 goal. Cut power-sector carbon emissions by 30% below 2005 levels.
- State requirements. Individual states are required to reduce emissions based on their fuel mix -- although multi-state programs are encouraged by EPA.
- Interim targets. Although the final compliance deadline is 2030, states will be required to meet interim targets between 2020 and 2029.
- Deadline for plans. By June 30, 2016, states must submit to EPA their plans to achieve reductions. States can request additional time -- up to two more years for multi-state plans.
The proposal offers a full range of options for the states to consider. The EPA encourages the use of "innovative, cost-effective strategies that take advantage of investments already being made in programs." Smart meters and smart grids make many of these strategies possible.
Also, EPA notes: "Utilities can meet the energy savings requirements through a variety of means, including cost-effective energy efficiency programs, as well as load management and demand response programs." In fact, energy efficiency is mentioned 227 times in the 645-page proposal.
Regarding energy efficiency, Germany -- among several other states and countries -- has determined that the information provided to consumers via smart meters and smart grid technology lead to reductions in total energy consumption of up to 10%. This potentially represents a full third of the 30% reduction target in the new EPA proposal.
President Obama has asked EPA to finalize these regulations by June 2015.
Next step: Public comments. This will last 120 days and include four public hearings in late July. After this, EPA will update the proposal.
Read more at Smart Grid Watch!