MORRIS – Local Exelon power plants were producing low carbon emissions before it was cool – or at least before Monday, when the EPA released a monumental proposal pressuring power plants to slash emissions.
Earlier this week, the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency announced a Clean Power Plan which proposes power plants across the nation reduce carbon emissions up to 30 percent by 2030 compared to 2005. The EPA’s 645-page proposal provides carbon reduction guidelines and goals tailored to each state.
In Illinois, the EPA has asked lawmakers and energy officials to reduce the state’s carbon output by about 32 percent, based on pounds of carbon dioxide emitted per megawatt hour of electricity produced.
The regulations target coal-fired power plants, which account for 41 percent of Illinois’ power supply, according to the EPA, and produce much higher emissions than their nuclear counterparts.
This means Exelon – one of the largest power producers in Grundy County and in Illinois – may have little to worry about.
The company has the nation’s largest fleet of nuclear plants which already produce “virtually no carbon emissions,” Exelon senior media relations manager Paul Elsberg said.
Elsberg said it’s still too early to tell what impact the proposed regulations will have on the company and its local plants in Morris, Braidwood and Marseilles.
“We have just received the draft rule and are reviewing it and cannot provide any detailed comments at this point,” Elsberg said. “However, we are pleased that the draft rule recognizes the critical importance of supporting the continued operation of the nation’s nuclear fleet.”
As of now, the EPA’s proposal is open for public comment and will likely see another year or more of debate before the suggested regulations become concrete.
Two days after its release, the proposal is already being pummeled by some of the nation’s leading energy producers and coal-state lawmakers who criticize the potential economic impact if coal plants are forced to invest in green technology.
Among the critics is U.S. Rep. Adam Kinzinger, R-Channahon, who criticized the current presidential administration for unveiling the EPA’s plan.
“At a time when our economy is stagnating and families all over are struggling to make ends meet, I cannot understand why President Obama has chosen to issue regulations that will cost thousands of jobs and increase utility costs for millions,” Kinzinger said in a news release sent Tuesday. “America instead needs to pursue an all-of-the-above energy approach that supports a broad spectrum of energy sources and unleashes the ingenuity of the free market.”
The EPA cites increasing health and environmental risks caused by pollution as reasons for the drastic carbon emission reduction. The agency is focusing on energy production, because it accounts for 32 percent of the country’s total greenhouse gas emissions.
Elected officials, energy experts, environmental activists and other influential parties are supposed to work on the proposal to find ways to meet the 30 percent reduction goal.
Exelon officials will certainly be among that core group.
“We look forward to working with EPA and key stakeholders during the coming months as the rule is finalized,” Elsberg said.