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4,000 Megawatts of Coal Could Retire in Texas
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4,000 Megawatts of Coal Could Retire in Texas

According to a study released October 16 by the state's electric grid operator, at least 4,000 megawatts of coal-fired generating capacity in Texas could retire by 2022 as a result of EPA’s Clean Power Plan. The Electric Reliability Council of Texas (ERCOT) updated its analysis of the plan's impact on its region, which includes most of Texas. ERCOT anticipates the rule would increase retail power prices by up to 16 percent by 2030, a cost increase that doesn't include the impacts of new transmission projects or other investment that could be needed to support compliance, the report said. The latest report updated ERCOT's analysis from 2014, which evaluated the impact of the rule as it was proposed.

The grid operator analyzed the impact of the plan by modeling four scenarios and measuring anticipated tons of emissions. The first scenario, baseline, was based on current trends in the ERCOT region and looked at announced retirements and current regulatory requirements. Another scenario looked at system limits on carbon dioxide emissions and allowed the model to select the lowest-cost resource option without regard to market design. The third scenario included an estimated price for carbon dioxide emissions that would cause ERCOT to achieve the compliance targets. The fourth scenario included a price for carbon dioxide and models the impact of the Clean Power Plan as well as the federal implementation plan for regional haze.

ERCOT estimated that about 4,000 MW of generation capacity would need to retire to achieve compliance under the Clean Power Plan by 2030, a number that would increase to about 4,700 MW when regional haze requirements are taken into consideration. In scenarios that include a price for carbon emissions, study results indicate more than 14,000 MW of utility-scale solar, 9,000 MW of wind capacity and nearly 3,000 MW of new gas-fired combustion turbines would be added to achieve compliance within the ERCOT market, the report said.

ERCOT voiced concern with replacing a significant portion of base load generation, which is controllable and can be ramped up or down as needed, with intermittent generation, such as wind and solar sources. “We continue to have concerns about the potential impacts on planning and operation of the ERCOT power grid,” Trip Doggett, ERCOT chief operating officer, said in a statement. “Based on our analysis, we are especially concerned about reliability risks associated with multiple unit retirements within a short timeframe.”

To see ERCOT's Clean Power Plan analysis, go to http://www.ercot.com/content/news/presentations/2015/ERCOT_Analysis_of_the_Impacts_of_the_Clean_Power_Plan-Final_.pdf.
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