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Power Switch: An Effective, Affordable Approach to Reducing Carbon Pollution from Existing Fossil-Fueled Power Plants

February 23, 2014 Category: Policy, Technology

Simply by setting performance standards that result in displacing electricity generated by high emission rate coal-fired power plants with generation from existing currently underutilized, efficient natural-gas power plants, the U.S. can realize significant, near- term reductions in carbon pollution at a minimal cost. The economic modeling of the CATF proposal was conducted by The NorthBridge Group.

CATF’s proposal recommends that EPA:

  • Set separate emission rate standards for fossil-fueled utility boilers at 1,450 lbs CO2/MWh and natural gas combustion turbines at 1,100 lbs CO2/MWh; and
  • Facilitate least-cost implementation for states by issuing a model interstate emission credit trading rule with the opportunity to use the free allocation of allowances to protect electric retail ratepayers of all classes.

When fully implemented, these strategies will protect system reliability, grid stability and fuel diversity by relying on proven, existing fossil electric units that are in operation today.

The analysis predicts that the CATF proposal will:

  • Decrease by 2020 of 27%, or 636 million metric tons of CO2, from 2005 levels;
  • Avoid 2,000 premature deaths and 15,000 asthma attacks annually as a result of the annual reductions of over 400,000 tons in sulfur dioxide (SO2) emissions and nitrogen oxides (NOx) emissions in 2020;
  • Result in monetized health and climate benefits of $34 billion, which is over three times the cost of compliance;
  • increase in average nationwide retail electric rates by only 2% in 2020 which, based on Energy Information Administration forecasts, should result in no net increase in monthly electric bills.