The ever-changing landscape of the energy industry makes it hard to define one or two issues of critical importance. However, two areas of focus should garner immediate attention.
Limits on greenhouse gas emissions for existing power plants
The Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) is designing rules to set guidelines for states to limit greenhouse gas emissions from existing power plants. The President’s Climate Action Plan directed the EPA to release proposed rules by June 1, 2014. With coal plants meeting over 40% of the United States’ energy needs, changes to emissions for existing power plants should be an area of concern for the industry.
On March 31, 2014, the EPA submitted draft proposed rules to the Office of Information and Regulatory Affairs (OIRA), part of the White House Office of Management and Budget, for review. Draft rules are reviewed by OIRA prior to publication. The Climate Action Plan directs the EPA to issue final standards, regulations, and guidelines by June 1, 2015.
Implementation of the proposed rules could lead to the retirement of coal units and have a direct impact on utility rates.
Implementing NERC CIP 5 Standards
North American Energy Reliability Corporation (NERC) compliance standards continue to expand. Implementation of the Critical Infrastructure Protection Standard (CIP) Version 5 promises to require the detailed attention of utilities. Many assets that were grandfathered or considered non-cyber assets will now fall under the Version 5 umbrella. How assets interact in the chain of business processes will also impact their classification. The standard is open to interpretation by NERC audit organizations, so it is prudent to be conservative in asset assessments.
For more information on this topic, or to learn how Baker Tilly energy and utilities specialists can help, contact our team.