Report: Texas already on path to meeting most Clean Power Plan goals

The federal government’s proposed Clean Power Plan would have relatively minimal impacts on Texas because the state is already on track to meet 88 percent of the carbon emission reduction goals by 2030, according to a new study released by the non-profit Environmental Defense Fund.

The “Well within reach: How Texas can comply with and benefit from the Clean Power Plan” highlights Texas’ rapid growth in wind and solar power, as well as the state’s abundant natural gas resources courtesy of the shale boom. The state already is steadily reducing its reliance on coal-fired power that involves greater carbon emissions.

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The Clean Power Plan, the final version of which was proposed in August, is intended to reduce carbon pollution from existing power by 32 percent from their 2005 levels by 2030. States are allowed to develop their individual plans to meet their goals. But the bottom line is it will require states to rely on more renewable power sources and less on coal.

By 2030, the report projects Texas will receive more electricity from renewables like wind and solar than from coal.

“In the next 10 years, the electric grid likely will change more than it has in the past 100 years,” the report states.

Related: Obama touts Clean Power Plan; opponents ready their lawsuits

The EDF study contends that Texas’ projected “12 percent emissions rate reduction gap between business-as-usual and CPP compliance” would, even in the worst-case scenario, only require most cost increases and electricity price hikes in order to fill the gap. But the continually decreasing costs of developing wind and solar power could lead to the avoidance of even modest cost increases.

The city of Austin’s municipal utility, for instance, is already receiving offers for solar power purchase agreement with prices per kilowatt at less than half the national average, the report stated. According to National Renewable Energy Laboratory, Texas is by far the most resource-rich state in the country for wind and solar energy, the report added. Texas leads the nation in wind power generation, with more than twice the capacity of its closet rivals, California and Iowa.

Texas is even in position to become a bigger net exporter of natural gas, wind and solar power in the coming years, according to the report.

Related: Power plant operators say they’ve cut carbon emissions ahead of EPA’s Clean Power Plan

Despite some built-in advantages in Texas, the state is still one of several on track to sue the federal government over the Clean Power Plan. Attorney General Ken Paxton has asked for the rule to be delayed until the legal challenges play out. Paxton has called the proposal a federal takeover of the nation’s electric grid.

“While the EPA claims this agenda-driven rule will help the environment, in reality it will wreak havoc on the budgets of American families with virtually nothing to show for it,” Cynthia Meyer, Paxton’s spokeswoman, said Wednesday in an email response.

The Electric Reliability Council of Texas, which manages most of the state’s electric grid, has expressed concerns with the Clean Power Plan timeline in terms of needing to build more transmission lines infrastructure, as well as the potential for increasing electricity rates for consumers. ERCOT is expected to release an updated analysis later this month.

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