EPA RICE rule good news/bad news for cooperatives
Last week, the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) signed final revisions to the 2010 RICE (reciprocating internal combustion engine) National Emission Standards for Hazardous Air Pollutants that will ensure the standards are cost effective, achievable, and protective, while continuing to provide significant emission reductions.
Specifically, the ruling allows use of emergency units for up to 100 hours annually. Fifty of those hours can be used to avoid interruption of power supply. This change recognizes the unique reliability needs of electric cooperatives and their consumer members.
However, the RICE rule will eliminate beneficial peak shaving provisions by May 3, 2014, meaning potentially higher bills for some co-op members. The EPA revision requires expensive retrofits for RICE units used to reduce demand during peak events when power is most expensive. The EPA argues that unless the units are used for reliability, they will not meet EPA's criteria for emergency use.
"Not-for-profit, member-owned electric cooperatives use these RICE units as a means to control power costs by avoiding excessive electricity cost during periods of extreme demand -- far less than the 100 hours allowed for emergency demand response," said National Rural Electric Cooperative Association CEO Glenn English. "Cooperatives are disappointed that even though EPA acknowledged these limited hours would not adversely affect human health or the environment, in the end, the agency chose to eliminate the beneficial peak shaving provisions."