The Environmental Protection Agency’s Clean Power Plan is nearly finalized. Experts anticipate that it will require Pennsylvania to significantly reduce its carbon footprint by 2030. A recent editorial from the Scranton Times Tribune outlines how the Lackawanna Energy Center can play a critical role in cost-effectively allowing Pennsylvania to meet the plan’s goals. Find out more about options to reduce carbon pollution and how states, including Pennsylvania, are benefiting from the creation of new, high-efficiency power plants like the Lackawanna Energy Center – read the full editorial below.
Clean power goals realistic
Published in The Times-Tribune, Scranton, Pa.: July 24, 2015
The Environmental Protection Agency is about to finalize a plan to substantially reduce carbon pollution, state-by-state. Because of its traditional reliance on coal for power generation, Pennsylvania is the third-highest carbon pollution producer among the states. But, for a variety of reasons, it is well-positioned to make the program work.
According to the EPA, power plants in Pennsylvania produced 106 million metric tons of carbon dioxide in 2012, or 1,540 pounds per megawatt hour. The plan calls for Pennsylvania to reduce that to 1,052 pounds per megawatt hour by 2030, a reduction of 31.7 percent.
The federal program does not mandate methods to reduce carbon pollution. It does not call for the closing of any particular plant or elimination of any power generation method. Instead, it leaves that to the states based on their own circumstances.
Market conditions favoring natural gas already have had a significant impact in reducing carbon pollution in Pennsylvania. Relatively inexpensive gas from the Marcellus Shale already has caused several utilities to replace coal with gas. And several new plants are under construction or planned, such as the Invenergy LLC proposal for a 1,500-megawatt gas-fired plant in Jessup.
More than 4 trillion cubic feet of natural gas was extracted from the Marcellus Shale in Pennsylvania in 2014, double the amount in 2012, making the state the second-largest natural gas producer in the country, according to the U.S. Energy Information Administration.
Coal remains the top fuel for power generation, at 36.1 percent of all power, but only marginally so. Nuclear power produces 35.5 percent of Pennsylvania’s electricity, according to the EIA, the third-highest rate nationally.
So the state already has made progress toward the goal, as compared to the EPA baseline year of 2012. And there is substantially more that the state government can do as a matter of policy.
The state’s energy portfolio standard calls for 18 percent of all electricity produced in the state to come from renewable sources by 2021, but only 4 percent now comes from those sources, according to the EIA. The Corbett administration killed or diminished several programs meant to increase that percentage, most significantly a residential solar power program that had taken root.
The Wolf administration aggressively should revive those efforts to boost renewables, which are complementary to the burgeoning natural gas industry rather than competitive with it. Together, they pose the added advantage of helping to drive down the state’s carbon pollution. And it should press conservation, the least expensive and most direct way to minimize carbon pollution from power generation.