The Clean Power Plan: Boom or bust?

The Clean Power Plan goal of reducing carbon emissions from the energy sector and from coal-fired power plants, specifically, by 870 million tons or 32 percent below 2005 levels in 2030, is laudable. To the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency in creating such a plan and with regard to seeing it through, more power to ya!

Coal_bituminous[1]As detailed somewhat in the “Clean Power Plan a noble idea, its implementation anything but guaranteed” post of Aug. 10th, as for the CPP being a sure thing, at this early stage it is anything but. Assuming the worst-case scenario – that the plan as outlined is challenged in a court of law and the plaintiffs receive judgment in their favor and an appeal to that judgment in a different or higher court fails to overturn the decision and the challenge stands – what then?

As I see it, power-production-wise it will be more of the same or business as usual and when you think about it, the whole reason for the plan’s creation is to make an adjustment or a change to existing energy-generation practices. Seeking to make positive changes to increase power-plant efficiencies, to produce far less pollution from energy-production processes, both while at the same time lowering costs – operational and consumer, is right-headed as far as I’m concerned.

So, in the event that the Clean Power Plan is defeated, there should most definitely be a Plan B or backup plan, in other words.

A backup plan that I can conceive of is one where the energy end-user; for example, the home owner or business owner, could also be the power producer and that would be by way of on-site photovoltaic (PV) capability (solar panel systems) as is common with rooftop solar-panel installations, just far more of these over time, say out to year 2030 and even beyond.

320px-Giant_photovoltaic_array[1]Add to this endeavor, the building of far more out-in-the-field or field-based solar and/or wind-turbine installations. Some time ago I reported that, across the U.S., between 2010 and 2012, an added 100,000 residences were equipped with solar arrays and that there were 36,000 wind turbines nationwide. (See: “America’s energy future: Coal, gas, solar, water, wind or what?” here). Since then the numbers have no doubt grown.

Incentives and rebates can ease the financial hardship some consumers may be faced with in terms of their buying a personal (for their own use) PV system. Plenty of consumers have already taken advantage of these types of offerings or programs. Barring this, there are leasing programs too, as alternatives to consumers (end-users) owning their own systems.

What’s more, it is expected over time, that new technologies will be introduced to supplement existing means of power generation thereby improving upon what is already in existence or completely supplant it, once again, all in an effort to lower costs, make power production more efficient and, most importantly of all, cut down on pollutant emissions – carbon dioxide, oxides of nitrogen, sulfur dioxide, nitrogen dioxide, mercury, what-have-you. Doing nothing at all: not an option.

Lower image above: United States Air Force

– Alan Kandel

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