The Government Accountability Office (GAO) recently issued a report claiming that new and future U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) rules for coal-fired power plants will increase electricity costs, but that impacts will vary by region. Titled “Better Monitoring by Agencies Could Strengthen Efforts to Address Potential Challenges,” the report analyzed the impacts of four rules. These include two final Clean Air Act rules: the Cross-State Air Pollution Rule, which requires lower emissions from plants that affect other states’ air quality, and the Mercury and Air Toxics Rule. They also include a proposed Clean Water Act rule—the Cooling Water Intake Structures rule—and a proposed rule under the Resource Conservation and Recovery Act—the Disposal of Coal Combustion Residuals from Electric Utilities regulation, which deals with management of residues from coal burning.
GAO found that many existing power generators would retrofit equipment to comply with these provisions, but some, especially in the South and Midwest, likely would shut down. The report predicted that in some areas electricity prices would rise as little as one tenth of a percent, but that costs in Tennessee and Kentucky could rise 13 percent.