Will Obama's behind-the-scenes coal-plant plans spur smart grid investments?

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The Obama administration is considering new ways to cut greenhouse gas emissions that may spur utilities to undertake smart grid and other investments as a trade-off.

 

Bloomberg.com reports that the administration may require power plants to cut emissions by as much as 25%. (By comparison, emissions from power plants fell 16% from 2005 to 2012.) But power plant owners could get around those requirements if they took other steps instead, such as improving grid efficiency, encouraging conservation or expanding renewable energy.

 

Some observers question whether the administration even has such powers under the Clean Air Act. They say the law does not allow the government to regulate "beyond a plant's smokestack." Although the rules may be phased in over 15 years to soften the blow, coal companies and coal-powered utilities are expected to mount strong resistance.

 

A White House official who requested anonymity told Bloomberg a final decision has not been made. “I’m sure there will be plenty of speculation between now and when the rule is released, but until that point, that’s all it is - speculation,” said Thomas Reynolds, an EPA spokesman.