by Sue Cowell, in WashingtonNone of the requests to stay the Clean Power Plan will be heard until after the international climate change talks wrap up in Paris. This means that the Obama administration is assured that the Clean Power Plan will be intact during the talks, which are being held from November 30 through December 11, 2015.
Since the Clean Power Plan was published in the Federal Register, 26 states have filed lawsuits and requests to stay the Clean Power Plan along with a number of other interested parties. Other parties, including the American Wind Energy Association, have filed motions to intervene in favor of the Clean Power Plan. The US Court of Appeals for the DC Circuit consolidated the pending requests to stay the Clean Power Plan and set the following schedule:
November 5, 2015. Additional motions for stay of the Clean Power Plan due.
December 3, 2015. EPA's consolidated response to motions for a stay due.
December 8, 2015. Respondent-intervenors' responses to the motions for a stay due.
December 23, 2015. Replies due in support of the motions for a stay.
Basin Electric Power Cooperative has requested reconsideration of the court's scheduling order, starting with the November 5 date for motions to stay the Clean Power Plan. In its request, Basin Electric requests a date of January 21, 2016 for motions to stay the Clean Power Plan.
Meanwhile, individual states continue discussing their best options to comply with the Clean Power Plan, and potentially affected utilities are figuring out how to best position themselves. The Clean Power Plan requires a 32 percent reduction in CO2 emissions from affected existing power generating units by 2030. Under the Clean Power Plan, overall reductions in CO2 from covered existing power generating units are to be achieved through the use of heat rate improvements to coal-fired units, shifting generation from coal-fired to natural-gas fired power, use of renewable power, and implementation of demand-side energy efficiency projects.
Some utilities have announced plans to better position themselves with respect to the anticipated importance of natural gas. In August, the Southern Company announced plans to buy AGL Resources, a natural gas distributor, and Duke Energy recently announced its plan to purchase Piedmont Natural Gas.