CPS Energy prepared for EPA carbon rule

CPS Energy supports plans to reduce greenhouse gas emissions, and has been on an aggressive path to diversify and reduce the carbon intensity of its own generation fleet for several years now, through the increased use of natural gas, wind and solar energy.

CPS Energy’s longtime investment in carbon-free nuclear power also helps keep the fleet’s carbon intensity down, while robust energy efficiency and demand response programs shrink demand, and in turn emissions.

Utility officials will spend the next several weeks studying the hundreds of pages that comprise the new greenhouse gas limits proposed today by the Environmental Protection Agency. But thanks to its proactive approach, it appears CPS Energy is on a path towards compliance.

CPS Energy President and CEO Doyle Beneby said he appreciates that the EPA will allow individual states the flexibility to determine how to best meet the new standards, and that the proposed rules will credit utilities like CPS Energy for work they have already done.

“In the last few years, we’ve taken the approach that reducing pollutants in the air is the right thing to do,” he said. “The new rules proposed by the EPA strike a balance between where the utility industry is today and where we need to go.”

That proactive approach has typified CPS Energy’s strategy since Beneby arrived in 2010, when one of his first major actions as CEO was to announce the retirement of the utility’s two oldest coal units, known as JT Deely, by 2018, some 15 years ahead of schedule.

Beneby said at the time that the money CPS Energy would have spent on non-compliant coal units would be more wisely invested in less carbon-intensive generation. Since then, the utility has purchased an 800-MW combined-cycle natural gas plant and signed a power purchase agreement for 400 MW of solar power.

CPS Energy has seen the carbon intensity of its generation fleet decline over the past decades, even as the community has grown and power plants have been added. Since 2011, CPS Energy has reduced carbon emissions by 2.5 million tons.

In addition to diversifying its generation resources, CPS Energy continues to help customers boost the energy efficiency of their homes and businesses, and remains on track to save 771 MW through its STEP, or Save for Tomorrow Energy Plan. STEP includes rebates for commercial lighting and HVAC retrofits, rooftop solar, free energy efficiency measures for low-income households, and new home construction.

CPS Energy is also tapping both commercial and residential customers to reduce energy demand on summer afternoons with a robust and growing suite of demand response programs, while its $290 million Smart Grid Initiative, launched earlier this year, will enable additional carbon reductions.

Through all its strategies, CPS Energy estimates it will reduce overall carbon emissions by 4.6 million tons by 2020, a 25 percent decrease since 2010.

Tracy Idell Hamilton

Tracy Idell Hamilton was part of the Corporate Communications team at CPS Energy.

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