On Sept. 20, 2013, the Environmental Protection Agency issued a new proposal for carbon pollution from new power plants. EPA is proposing to set separate standards for natural gas-fired turbines and coal-fired units. The proposed limits for new coal-fired power plants are based on the assumption that carbon capture and sequestration (“CCS”) can be applied to the source.

EPA has indicated that it expects the proposed rule to become final toward the end of 2014. Once the NSPS for new power plants has been set, section 111 of the Clean Air Act requires EPA to set limits or guidelines for existing sources using a process similar to the state implementation plan process. EPA has announced plans to conduct public meetings to initiate a process to develop such limits under section 111 of the Clean Air Act.

The following summarizes the proposed NSPS limits for new power plants:

Natural gas-fired stationary combustion turbines

EPA is proposing two standards for natural gas-fired stationary combustion units, depending on size. These standards are:

  • 1,000 pounds of CO2 per megawatt-hour (lb CO2/MWh-gross) for larger units (>850 mmBtu/hr)
  • 1,100 lb CO2/MWh-gross for smaller units (=850 mmBtu/hr)
  • According to EPA, new natural gas-fired stationary turbines can be expected to meet the proposed standard without the need for add-on control technology.

Fossil fuel-fired utility boilers and integrated gasification combined cycle units

  • The proposed limits for fossil fuel-fired utility boilers and IGCC units are based on the performance of a new efficient coal unit implementing partial carbon capture and storage (CCS). This approach ensures that any new fossil fuel-fired utility boiler or IGCC EGU will use modern, available technology to minimize emissions.
  • EPA is proposing two limits for fossil fuel-fired utility boilers and IGCC units, depending on the compliance period that best suits the unit. These limits require capture of only a portion of the CO2 from the new unit. These proposed limits are:
  • 1,100 lb CO2/MWh-gross over a 12-operating month period, or
  • 1,000-1,050 lb CO2/MWh over an 84-operating month (7-year) period
  • The longer compliance period option provides flexibility by allowing sources to phase in the use of partial CCS. The owner/operator can use some or all of the initial 84-operating month period to optimize the system. EPA is soliciting comment on what the standard should be within the proposed range.

To read more, see EPA’s Fact Sheet and Technical Fact Sheet.