A national science watchdog group says Alabama is more than 85 percent compliant with new federal emissions standards.
The “Clean Power Plan” standards proposed last year by President Obama through the Environmental Protection Agency have been criticized by Alabama officials and Attorney General Luther Strange joined in a lawsuit with 11 other states seeking to block the standards.
The lawsuit complains that the measures will severely damage the coal industry and lead to increased electricity costs for consumers. Alabama officials have also been critical of what they call EPA “overreach.”
But the analysis by the Washington-D.C. based Union of Concerned Scientists suggests because of the closures of coal plants in Alabama, the state is 86 percent compliant with the voluntary emissions benchmarks that go into effect in 2020.
The Tennessee Valley Authority has closed nearly all of its coal generation in Alabama, including the Colbert County plant west of Muscle Shoals and it will close the eighth and final unit at the Widows Creek plant in Jackson County in October. Alabama Power announced in 2014 it will close seven units at three plants by April 2016.
The UCS report finds that Alabama can meet the mandatory 2030 emission standards through various approaches, including “enacting an energy efficiency standard that would reduce the amount of electricity used in the state. The state is ranked 40th nationally for energy conservation.”
UCS also argues Alabama could enact a renewable energy requirement for utilities and cited the state’s untapped “wind” energy potential.
In north Alabama, TVA has embarked an expanded commitment to use of renewable energy and its proposed 20-year energy plan includes less and less coal production, greater use of natural gas, more use of solar and wind power and increased emphasis on energy efficiency.
Alabama Power, which serves most of the state, has said it expects electricity costs to rise due to the new emissions regulations.
“Enacting a renewable electricity standard that requires utilities to produce a certain amount of electricity using renewable energy,” the report contends.
Overall, the report found 14 states are on track to beat the 2020 benchmarks for reduced emissions, nine states including Alabama are 75 percent of the way or more toward meeting the standards and eight states are 50 or more toward reaching the standards.
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