Laws recently passed by the states of Washington and Montana are creating greenhouse gas emissions standards for new power plants. The two states are relying on different approaches but each has C02 reduction from future coal plants as the primary goal.
In Washington, the bill SB6001, establishes a greenhouse gas performance standard for all new, long-term baseload electric power generation. Under the standard, all baseload generation for which utilities enter into long-term contracts must meet a greehouse gas emissions standard 1,100 pounds of less per megawatt-hour beginning in July 2008.
California started this trend in September of 2006, when they instituted a suite of laws on greenhouse gas emissions in the electricity sector. Included was a law “requiring that all new long-term commitments for baseload generation to serve California consumers be with power plants that have emissions no greater than a combined cycle gas turbine plant (1,100 pounds of CO2 per megawatt-hour).” The goal was to deter the use of coal-fired power plants, which have emissions greater than 1,100 pounds of CO2 per megawatt-hour.
In a different approach, on May 14, 2007, Montana adopted a CO2 emissions offset requirement for electric generating units in the state. HB 25 prohibits the state Public Utility Commission from approving electric generating units primarily fueled by coal unless a minimum of 50 percent of the CO2 produced by the facility is captured and sequestered. The law applies to electric generating units constructed after January 1, 2007 and appears to provide an exemption from the policy if implementation causes ratepayers to incur cost increases of more than 2.5 percent.
These legislative efforts are a timely response to resurgence of proposed coal-fired power plants across America. According to a May 2007 study by the Department of Energy, nationwide there are proposals in place for 151 new coal-fired power plants. Specifically, Washington has 2 proposals and Montana has 7 proposals for new coal-based power plants. Coal is of minimal importance in Washington but Montana generates over half of the state’s total electricity consumption from coal.
- Montana HB0025 — enacted May 14, 2007:
- Washington SB6001 — enacted May 3, 2007
- Tracking New Coal-Fired Power Plants database — Department of Energy
- New Rules Project section on Greenhouse Gas Emissions Performance Standard for Power Plants — California