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State Public Utility Commissions To Prepare—or Not to Prepare—for Clean Power Plan

At present, few state public utility commissions show Clean Power Plan-related (CPP) online actions or information, despite the September 2016 Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) deadline for state implementation plans and deadline extension requests.

Key Details

The CPP establishes nationwide carbon dioxide (CO2) emissions standards for existing fossil fuel electric generating units. The intended result is an estimated 32% CO2 emissions reduction by 2030, using a 2012 measured baseline.

The EPA issued the plan in August of 2015 and published it in the Federal Register on October 23. The next formal step is for each state to prepare and file their implementation plan by September 2016, regardless if a state has filed suit against the plan in court. While a two-year extension may be provided, each state has a “show your work” requirement by September 2016.

These plans are significant and commit the state to a course of action to reduce CO2 through 2030. Plans are expected to involve multiple stakeholders, including generation owners, environmental activists, trade groups, and others. In mid-November, ScottMadden conducted a cursory search of 50 state public utility commission websites to review available CPP-related actions and information. Indicators and results are below:


ScottMadden expected to see more information on state regulatory commission websites. The entire industry is talking about the CPP; conferences, tradeshows, industry magazines, etc. have frequently highlighted, keynoted, or spotlighted this topic.

The lack of online action or information on state regulatory websites may indicate resistance, website resource limitations, confusion, or wait-and-see attitudes. Many states may consider wait-and-see as prudent, considering unclear CPP rule nuances and implications, uncertain litigation outcomes, and the ability to request a two-year implementation plan deadline extension. If resistance or wait-and-see are the cases, then CPP opponents who miss the September 2016 deadline may find themselves out of time to file their plans by the September 2016 deadline and risk default into the Federal Implementation Plan and/or lose federal incentives for early planning and implementation.

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This report is part of ScottMadden’s Fossil Minute series. To view all featured Fossil Minutes, please click here.

Contributing Author: David Mendez

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Contributing Authors

Todd Williams Partner

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