Dozens of people rallied outside the State Capitol yesterday to support tougher new EPA proposals for electricity-generating plants. At the same time, Virginia lawmakers were hearing from stakeholders—and trying to determine how the state could be effected if the rules are adopted. And as Virginia Public Radio’s Tommie McNeil reports, there were a lot of questions about reports that residents could be paying $300 a year more if the proposals are adopted – because some power plants could shut down.
After hearing from stakeholders about proposed EPA rules to reduce power plant carbon emissions, Virginia lawmakers expressed concern about estimates that the state’s utilities will have to spend billions of dollars on improvements and ultimately pass those costs on to consumers. But supporters of the regulations say that lawmakers aren’t seeing the whole picture.
For instance, Cale Jaffe with the Southern Environmental Law Center says based on the credit for plans already underway— including maintenance of Virginia’s nuclear fleet that is “at risk” of being retired—new gas plants, and coal plant retirements, Virginia will be nearly 80% compliant with the EPA’s emissions-reduction goal for the Commonwealth: And Jaffe counters the argument that investments in alternative energy sources would cost consumers 25 to 30% more.
Jaffe says 100% compliance with the EPA’s goal is achievable with investments in energy efficiency and renewables. He adds that Virginia has a great opportunity to leverage the Clean Power Plan into the creation of solar, wind, and energy-efficiency jobs.