Understanding Environmental Regulation


The resources below are offered as part of our Complying with Environmental Regulations Knowledge Management Series. These provide information on environmental regulations in the US and how those intersect with energy regulation.

  • Addressing the Effects of Environmental Regulations: Market Factors, Integrated Analyses, and Administrative Processes: In this brief memo, RAP considers the role that utility market factors such as the price of natural gas, can play in the context of emerging environmental regulations and in regulatory compliance strategies. Utilities will consider both regulatory compliance and market fundamentals in their business decisions regarding existing power plants. The comments provided here seek to highlight the positive aspects of looking at resource choices in an integrated manner. States that consider methodologies and approaches that help in understanding the full value of various available resources, thereby ensuring investment in the most suitable resource choice at least-cost to customers and society, could earn dividends on their advanced planning and avoid costly duplication of effort later. Finally, we provide brief descriptions and characterizations of various “process” approaches being employed by several states.
  • Further Preparing for EPA Regulations: With over a half-dozen environmental regulations expected in the next several years, many state energy regulators find themselves having to reach beyond their traditional regulatory boundaries to understand the effects of public health and environmental regulations on the energy sector. This paper reviews new and pending water, solid waste, and air regulations and provides a variety of viewpoints for regulators to consider and build upon as they assess utility preparedness to respond to these challenges. Meeting this challenge requires up-to-date utility data and a methodical review of energy system “alternatives” specific to individual states and regions. The report reviews compliance alternatives, which include not only generation resources across the system, but also demand and delivery alternatives. With an understanding of available compliance options, utility regulators will be better equipped to identify choices that best suit their circumstances.
  • Incorporating Environmental Costs in Electric Rates: Working to Ensure Affordable Compliance with Public Health and Environmental Regulations: Requests for recovery of Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) regulatory compliance costs, which have significant price tags, are increasing across the country. With various strategies and compliance choices, RAP provides recommendations for how to identify, assess, and approve both effective and cost-effective strategies. This paper offers explicit recommendations to utility regulators about how to treat environmental compliance costs in ratemaking dockets.
  • Integrating Energy and Environmental Policy: Energy decisions have profound environmental and public health impacts. The purpose of this paper is to demonstrate that greater integration and coordination of energy and environmental regulation can improve both environmental and energy outcomes – as well as citizens’ quality of life and economic wellbeing – and to provide some advice and guidance for moving effectively in this direction.
  • Physical Impacts of Climate Change on the Western US Electricity System: A Scoping Study: This paper presents an exploratory study of the possible physical impacts of climate change on the electric power system, and how these impacts could be incorporated into resource planning in the Western United States. While many aspects of climate change and energy have been discussed in the literature, there has not yet been a systematic review of the relationship between specific physical effects and the quantitative analyses that are commonly used in planning studies.
  • State Implementation Plans: What Are They and Why do They Matter? In this publication, RAP explains the complex and somewhat opaque process whereby EPA develops air quality standards and states develop plans for meeting those standards. In particular, we emphasize the fact that the Clean Air Act requires regular review and updating of each standard based on current scientific understanding.
  • Strategies for Decarbonizing the Electric Power Supply: Policy decisions to avoid greenhouse gas emissions are not only about avoiding tons of greenhouse gases, but also about the need to go after the cheapest tons first. Drawing on experience across the globe, this paper presents a broad range of policy choices, which can be tailored to the specific circumstances in which they are implemented. It highlights examples of best practices for technology research and development, and for policy initiatives to foster deployment of those technologies that can lead to a decarbonized electric power sector.
  • Tracking Emissions Associated with Energy Serving Load in the Regional Greenhouse Gas Initiative (RGGI) States: a Feasibility Study: In this paper RAP assesses the suitability for tracking CO2 emissions associated with electricity imported into the RGGI region of two energy attribute tracking systems. The paper explores the capacity of the Generation Attribute Tracking System (GATS) in PJM and New England’s Generation Information System (GIS), and evaluates their capacity for this purpose. The use of GATS and GIS to track emissions associated with energy imported into the RGGI region is technically feasible, but poses challenges related to data quality, regulator access, and system coordination that will need to be addressed. As the RGGI’s participating states seek a means of tracking emissions associated with imports into the RGGI region, these tracking systems represent existing capacity that should not be overlooked.
  • Widening Energy Regulators’ Circles of Interest: State Examples of Energy Regulations and Processes That Consider Environmental Impacts: When energy regulators plan, approve utility investments, and make other regulatory decisions without incorporating environmental considerations, more costly supply options or solutions can be chosen, opportunities for less costly options can be passed by, and money, time, and resources lost. Energy regulators now must find ways to incorporate environmental issues into their processes, and to do so with the help of their counterparts in environmental agencies. This report describes the efforts of selected states that have taken steps in this direction.