Monday, February 9, 2015

Reducing Power Plant Emissions

EPA Rule 111: Clean Power Plan

In 2013, the EPA proposed new carbon pollution standards for power plants under section 111 of the Clean Air Act. The program is designed to regulate and reduce greenhouse gas emissions for new power plants under federal guidance, and to address the emissions of existing power plants through a state-based program. The proposals are designed to cut emissions from the power sector by as much as 30% by 2030, which will help to protect our health and the health of the environment for future generations. For a comprehensive list of benefits, see the EPA's fact sheet on the Clean Power Plan. The following diagram helps to explain the different kinds of greenhouse gas pollution and which sectors are major contributors.

The map below shows the location of the 54 fossil fuel fired power plants in Massachusetts. The data points and background map come from the U.S. Energy Information Administration (EIA); their online mapping system allows users to explore the various sources of energy production and distribution across the United States.

In December of 2014, the USGBC submitted recommendations to the EPA supporting their Clean Power Plan, proposing that States be given flexibility in developing their individual compliance strategies. The USGBC also suggested that existing knowledge around evaluation, measurement and verification used in the LEED system, be applied to tracking the reduction in emissions of power plants.

The EPA Clean Power Plan proposes 4 building blocks for states to achieve reduced power plant emissions, 1) power plant efficiency improvements, 2) dispatching to cleaner natural gas combined cycle plants, 3) renewable energy, and 4) energy efficiency. The fourth building block presents an opportunity for Massachusetts professionals to leverage their leadership and expertise in green building practices to help the Commonwealth achieve these important goals.

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