Seattle City Light Supports Clean Power Plan at US Court of Appeals

Seattle City Light is one of nine utilities and electricity generators that filed a brief supporting the Environmental Protection Agency’s clean power plan in the US Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia Circuit.

The power companies in the coalition are Austin Energy, Calpine Corp., National Grid Generation, New York Power Authority, NextEra Energy, Pacific Gas and Electric Co., Sacramento Municipal Utility District and Southern California Edison Co.

The clean power plan sets federal carbon emission limits on existing power plants for the first time.

While many states, coal producers, electric utilities and trade associations asked the court to stay the clean power plan, City Light and the other coalition members argued that the court should keep the plan in force while litigation over the plan runs its course.

Among the key arguments were:

  • The power companies’ experience reducing CO2 emissions within their generation fleets and portfolios, while continuing to provide reliable and affordable service, demonstrates the achievability and reasonableness of the clean power plan.
  • The flexibility afforded by EPA to utilize emissions trading to achieve the required reductions in the most cost-effective manner was in direct response to the wishes of the power companies and the electricity sector. The power companies anticipate that existing emissions trading programs, like the regional greenhouse gas initiative and California’s cap-and-trade program, will be relied upon to achieve the Clean Power Plan’s goals and that similar trading programs will develop and provide a pathway to compliance throughout the country.

When EPA announced the plan’s final regulations in August, City Light Interim General Manager and CEO Jim Baggs outlined the utility’s support:

“Seattle City Light, a carbon neutral utility since 2005, has long advocated for action to address climate change and supports EPA’s authority to regulate greenhouse gas emissions under the Clean Air Act.

“We believe that the impact of climate change is one of the greatest challenges facing the electric industry. Research we have undertaken and our recently developed Climate Adaptation Plan shows that climate change has significant effects on the reliability of our system.

“Utilities such as Seattle City Light that depend on hydropower face loss of snow pack and glaciers as well as increased frequency and severity of floods on our rivers. Overall, the industry will face increased risk of fire, sea level rise, severe storms and landslides that threaten power lines.  For these reasons, we urged the Obama Administration to ensure that the final rule delivers meaningful emission reductions from existing power plants and encourages investment in clean energy technologies.

“Seattle City Light will continue to invest in energy efficiency for our customers and in environmentally sound renewables.  While we are still reviewing the details of the plan, we are confident that the final rule provides the states the flexibility needed to design their program implementation to address state specific characteristics and impacts.  Seattle City Light looks forward to working with Washington State and other stakeholders as we develop a strong and effective state implementation plan.”