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Why NERC thinks the EPA Clean Power Plan could threaten grid reliability

There are ‘physical limitations’ on how fast states can build new infrastructure, analysts say.

For many observers, the saga over the EPA’s proposed Clean Power Plan is getting more and more like the first human trip to Mars: Nobody’s gone yet, but half the critics think it’s not worth going and the other half think they know a better way to get there.

15 states and a coalition of fossil fuel companies are suing the EPA because they believe the Obama administration’s centerpiece carbon regulation, which aims to cut U.S. greenhouse gas emissions 30% from 2005 levels by 2030, is an illegal overreach of EPA’s authority. Dozens of additional energy stakeholders, from states to utilities and researchers, have submitted comments critical of the plan’s proposed timeline, which would require states to begin to significantly cut carbon emissions by 2020.

Now, the North American Electricity Reliability Corporation (NERC), the federal non-profit charged with overseeing the reliable delivery of power, has released a report saying the CCP’s proposed timeline may indeed be problematic, and will likely need to be altered to allow enough time to build the necessary generation and transmission to comply with the regulations.

The large-scale deployment and use of renewables and natural gas generation represents a significant change in the power flow, both in direction and magnitude, for the bulk power system (BPS) and could be “a significant planning and operational challenge,” concludes NERC’s report, “Potential Reliability Impacts of EPA’s Proposed Clean Power Plan, Phase 1.”

“Sufficient time and coordination is needed to determine region specific solutions,” the report, which was released last week, reads.

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NERC estimates that the U.S. will need nearly 100 GW more gas generation and 23 GW more wind by 2020 to comply with the CPP, along with the pipeline and transmission infrastructure to serve it.  (Chart credit: NERC study of potential Clean Power Plan reliability impacts)

Read the rest of the story here: Utility Dive

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