Xcel Energy

Greenhouse Gas Regulation

In the coming years, EPA is expected to propose Clean Air Act-based rules to regulate greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions from existing power plants. Xcel Energy has been working with EPA, other utilities and environmental stakeholders to ensure that this potentially far-reaching regulation recognizes the value of state clean energy programs and our environmental leadership position.

Background

  • Since January of 2011, EPA has required that most new power plants install best available control technology to address GHGs under the Clean Air Act.
  • EPA has proposed a rule that would require all new power plants to meet a natural gas emission rate. If finalized as proposed, this rule would effectively ban the construction of new coal plants.
  • The next GHG step for EPA could be its biggest yet: regulation of GHGs from existing power plants. This potential new program could create a comprehensive suite of GHG regulations covering the vast majority of the U.S. fossil generation fleet.
  • President Obama’s 2013 State of the Union speech included a vow to implement executive action—such as EPA’s GHG rules—on climate change, if Congress does not act.

Xcel Energy has long believed that GHGs should be controlled under well-designed legislation rather than the Clean Air Act. However, the prospects for legislation are uncertain. If EPA moves ahead with existing-source GHG regulation under the Clean Air Act, we have encouraged the agency to follow these principles:

  • EPA should establish a legally defensible, reasonable program and targets for states and utilities.
  • EPA should allow broad flexibility for states to achieve equivalent GHG reductions through their own programs tailored to their unique circumstances. In our experience, state clean energy programs—renewable standards, customer efficiency programs and coal plant retirement programs such as the Minnesota Emissions Reduction Project or the Clean Air-Clean Jobs Act—have dramatically reduced CO2 emissions at reasonable costs.
  • Any program EPA constructs must recognize durable early actions that states and utilities have already made. Customers have invested in these emissions-reducing programs that were designed in part for climate change. Failure to credit early action could discourage future proactive programs.

About the Report

We published our first corporate responsibility report (formerly known as the Triple Bottom Line report) in April 2005, with the contents covering the 2004 calendar year, and we have published a similar report in each following year. Our report is based on Global Reporting Initiative (GRI) G3 Sustainability Reporting Guidelines, the most widely used sustainability reporting framework in the world. Additionally, we incorporate the GRI’s Electric Utilities Sector Supplement indicators wherever possible.

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