The Clean Power Plan should remain

An overwhelming 70 percent of American utility executives want to move forward with the Clean Power Plan, according to a new survey out by Utility Dive. Utilities and other generators are ultimately primarily responsible for implementing state plans to comply with the rules, and their leadership’s broad satisfaction with the Clean Power Plan is a strong endorsement that it’s achievable and will deliver real consumer benefits and cleaner air.

Not only are a strong majority of utility executives- nearly three-quarters of those surveyed- in support of the Clean Power Plan, but 29 percent of those surveyed want to see the reduction targets become more aggressive.

The EPA’s power plant rules present an opportunity for states to get ahead of trends in the utility sector and cut carbon pollution. By using low-cost wind energy to comply, states will see better air quality, improved public health, growth in private investment and new jobs.

The survey shows how seriously utilities are taking the deployment of renewables, with two-thirds of respondents identifying utility-scale wind and solar as technologies they’re already highly invested in. Looking ahead, 77 percent of respondents expect either a moderate (52 percent) or significant (25 percent) increase in the amount of wind energy in their utility’s power mix.

Utility Dive’s survey of 515 U.S. electric utility executives roughly reflects industry demographics at-large, with the largest number of respondents (61 percent) coming from investor-owned utilities. Regional distribution was stronger in the Midwest and West Coast, but no single region exceeded 22 percent of the sample.

Even though the survey was conducted before the U.S. Supreme Court issued a stay of the Clean Power Plan, many utilities have signaled their intention to move forward with carbon reduction efforts following the decision:

  • PacifiCorp: “We’re still going to continue to look to ways to cost-effectively expand our commitment to renewable resources,” said Ry Schwark, a spokesman for PacifiCorp, which… intends to “continue to work with states as they develop their plans.”
  • Xcel Energy: Regardless of the final Clean Power Plan outcome, Xcel will continue to work with states and stakeholders on plans “to create sustainable and affordable energy futures…This approach will not only ensure compliance with existing and new regulations, but also take advantage of new technologies, recognize evolving customer needs and continue to drive improvements in how we produce and deliver energy,” the Fortune 500 utility said.
  • American Electric Power: For American Electric Power, the court case “doesn’t change our focus on the diversification of our generation fleet,” according to spokeswoman Melissa McHenry. “Those diversification plans include more natural gas and renewables,” she said.

Ultimately, states and American consumers stand to benefit from cutting carbon pollution – it cleans the air and improves public health. By adding low-cost wind energy, states can also attract quality jobs and private investment.