New York Proposes Greenhouse Gas Emission Standards for Power Plants

On January 18, the New York State Department of Environmental Conservation (DEC) released a proposed rule, known as Part 251, which would limit carbon dioxide (CO2) emissions from new electric generating facilities over 25 megawatts and at existing facilities that undergo expansions of at least 25 megawatts. The threshold for expanded power plants is designed to allow coal plants to pursue efficiency improvements without triggering the emissions limit. The proposed rule would not affect electricity imports. If this rule is adopted, New York would become one of a few leading states with a specific GHG emission standard for individual power plants.

Specifically, the proposed regulation:

  • Includes both input-based and output-based standards, which each facility owner or operator may choose between;
  • Sets a CO2 emission limit of 925 pounds per megawatt-hour (lbs/MWh) (output-based) or 120 pounds per million BTU (lbs/MMBTU) (input-based) for most new or expanded baseload plants. This limit is based on the expected emissions from a well-operated and well-maintained natural gas combined cycle combustion turbine with some oil use as a backup;
  • Sets a limit of 1450 lbs/MWh (output-based) or 160 lbs/MMBTU (input-based) for simple cycle combustion turbines – these types of plants are built to be cycled on and off more quickly, but have higher emissions. This limit is based on the expected emissions of a well-operated and well-maintained simple cycle combustion turbine which fires either natural gas or distillate oil;
  • Includes recordkeeping, monitoring and reporting requirements.

In addition to these standardized requirements, the DEC will set case-specific CO2 emission limits for non-fossil fuel power plants, defined as any plant with a fuel mix of less than 70% fossil fuel.

The proposed rule is open to public comment through March 15, 2012, and there will be public hearings in early March. The rule is authorized by the Power NY Act of August 4, 2011, which requires a final rule by August 4, 2012, and will help New York achieve its goal of an 80% greenhouse gas emission reduction between 1990 and 2050.

Electricity generation is responsible for 19 percent of greenhouse gases emitted in New York, and New York emits 0.9 percent of the world’s carbon emissions. In 2008, the state emitted 47 million tons of CO2 , but in 2010 this amount fell to 42 million tons. Further emissions reductions are expected through New York’s participation in the Regional Greenhouse Gas Initiative (RGGI), which will reduce regional emissions by 10 percent by 2018.

Promulgation of the proposed rule would make New York the first state in the Northeast to set power plant CO2 emission standards and place it among states with similar rules such as California, Washington, Montana, and Oregon.


Proposed Rule Part 251 Homepage

Proposed Rule Regulatory Impact Statement (includes benefits, costs, and justification of proposed rule) and Summary

Long Island Press Story