A trade group of electricity suppliers representing about one-third of US power generation, The Electric Power Supply Association, has joined a growing list of corporate groups calling for federal caps on greenhouse gas emissions.
The announcement by the Electric Power Supply Association is a sign that much of the US industry is concluding; that they see it as inevitable that they will get hit with an emissions cap whether it wants one or not.
The group includes some utilities that generate much of their power from coal, which among the fossil fuels commonly used to generate electricity is the dirtiest in terms of global-warming emissions. Carbon dioxide, the main greenhouse gas, is produced when fossil fuels such as coal, oil and natural gas are burned.
The group's president, John Shelk, says the reason they're endorsing CO2 regs is simple — predictability. Any power plants built in the near future that are being planned for now will be around for literally decades — as long as 50 years. So it's important to know ahead of time what the rules will be governing those power plants, including the rules on greenhouse gas emissions.
In a related action, The Edison Electric Institute is seeking federal action to cut greenhouse gases. They says such measures should promote development of cost-effective "climate-friendly" technologies. It has called on the government to include long-term public funding for research on controlling emissions. The Institute has long opposed mandatory limits on carbon, a key greenhouse gas. The principles the group adopted last week reversed that policy.
"This is a watershed day for the industry to take a like this," said Jim Rogers, chief executive of Duke Energy Corp. and chairman of the Edison Electric Institute "It reflects our industry's concern about this issue, and we need to act together to get this right."
This may mean that we have reached a tipping point on control of global emissions in the US., the initiative coming, in part, by industry. This is not necessarily a sign that industry is so much in favor of emission controls, but they need consistant rules inacted ealier rather than later so they can proceed with their plans. And it doesn't hurt their image any. These actions indicate that the electric industry is not as opposed to control of global warming emissions as some believe. They would like congress to act, so they can plan on building plants that will be competitive in the future. They may not endorse the most strict measures, but at least are acknowledging a need to reduce emissions. This is the reason that some are building IGCC plants, the ones that don't are likely to be forced to implement expensive retrofits.