Last week EPSA and EEI became the first major energy trade groups to advocate a federal mandate to control greenhouse gas emissions. Both groups' endorsements of national emissions legislation are predicated on sets of guiding principles reflecting the interests of their members. EPSA's statement indicated its concern that programs currently being implemented or developed in states across the country, with their differing and inconsistent demands, will present compliance difficulties for utilities and power generators. EPSA hopes that a federal mandate will preempt the state programs and achieve consistency across states and regions. At the same time, EPSA emphasized that national carbon control legislation should ensure that funding and incentives for carbon emission-reducing technology are available to industry participants on a competitive basis.
EEI's new global warming principles represent a departure from EEI’s past opposition to carbon taxes and mandatory greenhouse gas emissions caps. EEI's new policy advocates carbon legislation that ensures the development of a range of “climate-friendly” technologies, minimizes disruptions to consumers and the economy, and applies to all sectors of the economy, including transportation. Beneath these general principles, however, EEI's membership remains divided on major issues such as how to allocate carbon emission allowances to electric utilities and other industrial emission sources.
Neither industry group has endorsed any of the specific carbon control bills working their way through Congress. Nor have they advocated for specific greenhouse gas reduction levels or timetables. These statements of support for a national greenhouse gas emissions mandate, however, reflect a shift in industry thinking. With increasing numbers of climate change-related bills before Congress, and the steady drumbeat of demands that global warming be reversed ─ including EEI Chairman and Duke Energy President, Chairman, and CEO James Rogers' recently-announced support for the U.S. Climate Action Partnership ─ regulated utilities as well as generators have apparently concluded to take a seat at the table before negotiations approach end game.