From: Ayesha Rascoe, Reuters, WASHINGTON
Published October 28, 2010 06:18 AM

EPA defends planned rules over power concerns

The Obama administration is defending its plans to crack down on industrial pollution after a report from a utility group found proposed regulations may result in tighter U.S. power supplies.

The North American Electric Reliability Corp released a study on Tuesday that found four possible Environmental Protection Agency rules could "accelerate the retirement of a significant number of fossil fuel-fired power plants".


Utilities may have to replace or make efficiency gains for up to 70 gigawatts, or about 7 percent, of U.S. power generation by 2015, the study said.

The EPA disputed those findings on Wednesday, saying the report by the industry group relied on faulty assumptions.

"By NERC's own admission, its projections about electricity supply impacts rest on its own fortune-telling about future regulations that have not even been proposed yet," EPA spokesman Brendan Gilfillan said in a statement.

Gilfillan said the EPA would be "sensitive" on reliability issues as it developed rules.

The two rules that NERC said would have the most impact on utilities -- cooling-water intake structures and pollution from power plants -- have not been officially unveiled by the EPA.

NERC, a self-regulating group that enforces reliability standards, said its study was not attacking EPA regulations, but instead was noting issues that the industry and EPA would have to consider to ensure the grid remained reliable.

"It shows that work needs to be done," said John Moura, a technical analyst for NERC. "Industry needs prompt action to replace that capacity that is going to be lost."

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