Assessing the Federal and State Regulation for Coal-Fired Electricity Generation Units (EGUs): The Case of Maryland
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The Clean Air Act (CAA) of 1970 led to a major regulatory shift as it enabled the Federal and State governments to regulate the emissions from both stationary and mobile sources. Older coal-fired power plants, one of the largest sources of air pollution, are not very strictly regulated by the CAA. The compliance strategy is complicated and grandfathered plants have been successful in limiting regulations affecting them. For tougher regulations on air quality and water use & ash disposal, coal-fired power plants will have two alternatives – retirement or adopting expensive control technology. Given the age of the plants, expenses of retrofitting and low electricity price, many coal-fired plants will probably choose to retire. However, there are uncertainties associated with Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) regulations as it has designed and revised many regulations in response to ‘independent and unrelated’ court orders. Maryland’s current energy policy emphasizes two strategies – improved per capita energy efficiency and renewable energy. There are currently no state initiatives that encourage using natural gas instead of coal as an emissions-reduction strategy. On the contrary, recent tightening of the state’s emissions standards for non-greenhouse gas pollutants led to significant upgrades of the state’s coal plants. Given various Federal and State initiatives to reduce GHG emissions as well as to promote environment-friendly use of resources, the future energy scenario will be much different from the present one, potentially with characteristics like greater use of natural gas, significant role of solar energy, advances in generation and innovations in transmission technologies. The present study focuses on the present scenario of Federal and State initiatives, and intends to outline the future consequences.
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