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Utility Companies Studying New EPA Pollution Targets

The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency has announced specific targets that states will need to meet in reducing carbon emissions by the year 2030. For Washington State, it’s an ambitious goal of a 72 percent reduction. The overall nationwide goal set by EPA is a reduction in carbon emissions by 30 percent by the year 2030.

A major portion of Washington’s carbon currently comes from the Centralia coal burning power plant, a facility that is already scheduled to shut down by 2025.

The chairman of the Washington State Utilities and Exchange commission, Dave Danner, says with that in mind, the goal is achievable, since 70 percent of the states carbon emissions come from that Centralia plant.

Danner: “If we continue or energy efficiency activities, if we continue getting our renewable built out to 15 percent by 2020, and if we get the plant closed, like I said we’ll be well on the way to meeting these goals.”

Washington has a bit of a head start on efficiency and renewable development. State voters passed initiative 937 back in 2006 that set specific goals in expanding renewable like wind and solar power by a target date.

In this region, Avista Utilities gets about 9 percent of its electricity generation from coal, and 35 percent from natural gas, both of which contribute to carbon emissions. The company’s Director of Environmental affairs, Bruce Howard, says it’s too early in the process to determine exactly how they may be impacted from the new carbon reduction targets.

He explains that at this stage, it is a proposed rule, with states deciding how it will need to be implemented to regulate utilizes.

Danner: “We also have customers in Idaho and Washington , and those two states have the lowest target numbers, but we also have generation in Oregon and Montana, and so we’ll be truing to engage in all four states to see how the states are reacting to this proposed rule, and how they will go about planning and reacting to it.”

Some see the proposed rule as an economic opportunity. JaceBylinga is with the Sierra club. He says our region could benefit economically by developing ore sources of wind and solar energy:

Bylinga: “We need to take advantage of making our economy more energy efficient, and by doing that we can create jobs for people making home more energy efficient, and just by using less electricity and just by using it more efficiently.”

After states have a chance to comment on the proposed rule, a final rule is expected in another year, then it will take another year to draft specific plans, and another year to implement the carbon reduction plan.

Steve was part of the Spokane Public Radio family for many years before he came on air in 1999. His wife, Laurie, produced Radio Ethiopia in the late 1980s through the '90s, and Steve used to “lurk in the shadowy world” of Weekend SPR. Steve has done various on air shifts at the station, including nearly 15 years as the local Morning Edition host. Currently, he is the voice of local weather and news during All Things Considerd, writing, editing, producing and/or delivering newscasts and features for both KPBX and KSFC. Aside from SPR, Steve ,who lives in the country, enjoys gardening, chickens, playing and listening to music, astronomy, photography, sports cars and camping.
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