Basin Electric responds to proposed greenhouse gas emissions rule

On May 11, the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) released a new proposed rule to regulate greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions from power plants, specifically carbon dioxide (CO2). 

The rule sets a different Best System of Emission Reduction (BSER) for existing coal-based units, existing large natural gas-based turbines, and new natural gas-based turbines. In the proposed rule, the EPA states that carbon capture and sequestration (CCS) with 90% capture of CO2 is adequately demonstrated and cost reasonable and therefore is broadly applicable to be BSER. 

Additionally, the proposed rule includes: 

  1. New emission guidelines for states that are developing plans to reduce GHG emissions from existing fossil fuel-based steam generating EGUs; and
  2. New emission guidelines for states that are developing plans to reduce GHG emissions from existing fossil fuel-based stationary combustion turbines. 

As written, the proposed rule will be rolled out in multiple phases over the next 15 years. For new stationary combustion turbines, Phase I will begin upon initial startup. For existing coal, oil, and natural gas-based boilers and large, frequently used natural gas combustion turbines, compliance phases are dependent upon the compliance path that is chosen and how long an operator is planning to operate a source. 

Basin Electric’s stewardship of the environment has been a guiding principle since its incorporation more than six decades ago. “For more than 20 years we have participated in one of the world’s largest carbon sequestration projects – removing over 43 million tons of CO2 as well as decreasing our carbon intensity by 30% since 2005,” Erin Dukart, Basin Electric director of Environmental Services, said. Basin Electric is committed to reducing its carbon footprint strategically and sensibly in a way that will allow them to serve their members reliably and affordably.  

Basin Electric staff is analyzing the proposal and evaluating what it means for the cooperative and the membership. The proposed regulations attempt to force utilities to either install unproven, extremely costly technology, switch fuel sources, and/or prematurely retire power generation facilities. Either option threatens the affordable and reliable electric generation that Basin Electric provides its members.

Basin Electric, along with several other partners, are in the process of developing comments on the proposed rule, which are due Aug. 8. “Basin Electric believes the rule is largely unworkable and will be commenting on legal issues, technical errors, timing, grid stability concerns, and cost unreasonableness, among other issues with the proposed rule,” Dukart said. “The EPA has stated that it plans to issue a final rule in the spring of 2024. If the final rule is not more feasible than the proposed rule, Basin Electric and others will likely litigate the rule.”