Clean Power Plan

  1. Q. With President Trump in office, does this have an impact on the Clean Power Plan?
  2. Q. The US Supreme Court recently issued a decision on CPP - what was it?
  3. Q. What does this Supreme Court's decision to "stay" the Clean Power Plan mean in Minnesota?
  4. Q. What is this “Clean Power Plan” that I've been hearing about?
  5. Q. Did the EPA make changes from their initial draft of the CPP?
  6. Q. What does the FINAL Rule do?
  7. Q. What does it mean for Minnesota?
  8. Q. Is Minnesota moving forward with developing a plan?
  9. Q. What is the timeline of this Rule?

1. Q. With President Trump in office, does this have an impact on the Clean Power Plan?

Yes.  On March 28, President Donald Trump signed the Executive Order on Energy Independence, which calls for a review of the Clean Power Plan. Below is more information from the Environmental Protection Agency's.

The EPA will need to go through the formal rulemaking process to change the existing rule.

2. Q. The US Supreme Court recently issued a decision on CPP - what was it?

A.  In February 2016, the US Supreme Court temporarily blocked the EPA's Clean Power Plan.  The court granted emergency requests to delay the regulation while its legality is being challenged in the lower courts.

Although the Supreme Court’s order is temporary and isn’t a ruling on the merits, it indicates the court’s conservative majority harbors misgivings about the Obama administration plan.

The court’s action, which divided the justices along ideological lines, came as a surprise to many observers because the court has strict criteria for granting stays.

Oral arguments at the appeals level are scheduled for June, with the possibility of a ruling later in the year, on time to be heard in the Supreme Court’s 2016-2017 term.

3. Q. What does this Supreme Court's decision to "stay" the Clean Power Plan mean in Minnesota?

A.  Regardless of the "stay", Governor Dayton announced that the State will continue moving forward in developing the State Implementation Plan (SIP).  A status report by Minnesota's Pollution Control Agency is expected to be presented to the State Legislature in March 2016.

4. Q. What is this “Clean Power Plan” that I've been hearing about?

A.  For the first-time ever there are national standards that address carbon pollution from power plants. The Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) released their Clean Power Plan (CPP) in August which will have industry-changing impacts throughout the United States.

The over 1,500 page document is still being studied, reviewed and scrutinized by utilities, state agencies and anyone interested in energy policy trying to determine its potential impact and how to implement it. 

5. Q. Did the EPA make changes from their initial draft of the CPP?

A.  Yes, the EPA’s proposed Clean Power Plan under Section 111(d) of the Clean Air Act was released on June 2, 2014. More than 2 million public comments were submitted to EPA.

6. Q. What does the FINAL Rule do?

A.  The CPP strives to lower carbon dioxide emissions from existing power plants by setting state-specific carbon dioxide emission goals.  The goal is a 32% reduction in Carbon Dioxide (CO2) emissions from 2005 levels by 2030.

The CPP covers existing coal and natural gas combined cycle (CC) plants.  The CPP does not cover existing peakers or new fossil fueled plants

7. Q. What does it mean for Minnesota?

A.  The CPP impacts each State and each utility in a very different manner.  In Minnesota, Xcel Energy and Minnesota Power will likely have the greatest impact because they have the most electric generation assets (coal and natural gas plants) within Minnesota.  Otter Tail Power announced last year their plans to retire their Hoot Lake coal plant in Fergus Falls in 2021.

Minnesota’s reduction goal is 34% reduction if using a mass-based approach calculation and 42% if using a rate-based approach.  North Dakota, who has one of the greatest reduction goals, must reduce their CO2 by 37 % using a mass-based or 45% using a rate-based calculation. 

A rate-based state goal is measured in pounds per megawatt hour (lb/MWh) – so more measured by each facility that is emitting CO2.

A mass-based state goal is measured in total short tons of CO2 – so more measured as total state emissions of CO2.

8. Q. Is Minnesota moving forward with developing a plan?

A.  Yes, even with the recent Supreme Court issuing a "stay" on the CPP, the State is plans to move forward in developing a draft State Implementation Plan (SIP).  It is still unclear how/if the EPA will respond.

Many stakeholders agree that it is better to have the State develop a Plan with input from Minnesotans rather than have a Federal plan mandated upon us.  Minnesota’s Pollution Control Agency (MPCA) has been designated the lead agency in developing the SIP and they are working with stakeholders, including the utility industry, to get input.

9. Q. What is the timeline of this Rule?

The initial Timeline for the CPP was:

2015

August 3, 2015 – EPA signed final Clean Power Plan

October 2015 – Federal Register publication
 
1 Year
•September 6, 2016 – States make initial submittal with extension request or submit final plan
 
2 Years
•September 6, 2017 – States with extensions submit progress update and decide on plan approach
 
3 Years
•September 6, 2018 – States with extensions submit final plan
 
7 - 14 Years
•January 1, 2022 – Interim compliance period begins
•Example:  2022 - 2024  first interim compliance period.  Demonstrate compliance in mid 2025.
 
15+ Years
•January 1, 2030 – Final compliance targets begin (two year demonstration periods).
 
It is uncertain what the Timeline for the CPP will be.  Oral arguments at the appeals level are scheduled for June, with the possibility of a ruling later in the year, on time to be heard in the Supreme Court’s 2016-2017 term.