The Business of Clean Air:
Clean Energy Opportunity in Pennsylvania’s
Electric Power Sector
Conrad Schneider
Advocacy Director
Clean Air Task Force
June 21, 2012
The state of Pennsylvania has the second highest
electricity output of any state in the U.S., second
only to Texas.
It also boasts some of the worst air pollution
from power plants.
But this can change.
Nearly half of the
227 million
(MWh) generated by
power plants in 2010
came from coal.
The 18 gigawatts of coal-fired power plants are
old – most of them over 40 years old.
Many of these plants lack the state-of-the-art
pollution control equipment that would help
limit unhealthy air emissions.
This is especially true for emissions of
particulate matter...
...and for mercury.
The public health results are significant.
While Pennsylvania exports a lot of power to other states, much of its
air pollution stays right at home.
Pennsylvania is ranked #1 among all states for the health burdens
imposed on its residents.
Every year, an estimated 980 premature deaths, 1,016 hospital
admissions, and 2,298 heart attacks result from power plant emissions.
According to a recent study, emissions from one plant alone -- the
Bruce Mansfield plant -- caused an estimated 57-110 premature
deaths in 2011.
The good news is that many electric power companies
have already invested in reducing emissions. Most of
Pennsylvania's coal plants now have scrubbers to
reduce sulfur dioxide, for example.
The Environmental Protection Agency has
recently promulgated two rules for the electric
power sector...
... the Mercury and Air Toxics Standard (MATS)
... and the Cross-State Air Pollution Rule (CSAPR)
These rules require power plants to reduce mercury
emissions by about 90% and reduce sulfur dioxide
emissions by ~70%. Companies can comply with the
rules by improving their pollution control
equipment and making operational changes.
These changes use proven technology and best
practices to help reduce the harmful effects of
gaseous and toxic releases from power plants.
The investments required under the MATS rule
are expected to prevent 210 premature deaths
per year in Pennsylvania.
By keeping sulfur dioxide out of the air, CSAPR is
expected to prevent 450 premature deaths.
So as you see, these rules have significant health
benefits in store for Pennsylvania.
Investments in air pollution controls and other clean power
generation technology also present an economic opportunity
for Pennsylvania.
Approximately $4.7 billion will be invested in pollution control
equipment by 2015 in Pennsylvania to meet the clean air
standards set by CSAPR and MATS.
This would directly and indirectly create over 33,800 jobs.
Construction of new power plants to replace older, less
efficient, and less economical ones could create an additional
25,400 jobs.
Many companies in PA would benefit from this investment...
They operate up and down the value chain...
And they are located all across the
As an example, Calgon Carbon, located in Pittsburgh, believes mercury removal
regulations will drive market growth by up to 400% by 2015, and plans to build a new
plant to meet this new demand.
“The Company believes that mercury removal could become the largest U.S.
market for activated carbon and has made great strides in establishing itself as a
market leader. The Company currently estimates that annual, total demand for
mercury removal in North America is 150 to 200 million pounds today and may
grow to as much as 500 to 750 million pounds by 2015 …
We believe our advanced products for mercury removal, some of which have
carbon usage rates of 50% to 70% less than alternative products, are important to
our ongoing success in this market. In anticipation of the eventual increase in
activated carbon necessary to serve this market, we continue to develop our
plans for the construction of a new virgin activated carbon plant in the U.S.”
- Calgon Carbon Corporation 2011 10-K Report
The EPA rules, CSAPR and MATS, are driving this investment
and creating public health and economic dividends. Yet these
rules are facing opposition from large emitters and some
members of Congress.
The Senate recently rejected one attempt to stall the MATS
rule. Just yesterday, Senator Inhofe’s MATS CRA resolution
failed, with thanks in part to Senator Casey who voted against
the measure. This was a big step in the right direction.
Other efforts to revise or repeal EPA rules are expected, and
would also place Pennsylvania's future health and welfare in
Additional opposition to the EPA rules has been
based on concerns about reliability, but analysis
suggests these concerns are unfounded.
In their recent reliability assessment, the North
American Electric Reliability Corporation (NERC)
determined that the PJM Interconnection, home
to 58 million electricity customers, is projected
to have adequate generation capacity.
“PJM is expected to meet its Reserve Margin
requirements through the entire assessment period
[to 2020]…No resource-related reliability concerns
were identified.”
This analysis takes into account 3,600 megawatts of
generator retirements, and projects that 2,500
megawatts of wind, 306 megawatts of solar, and 69
megawatts of biomass, 393 megawatts of energy
efficiency will be added in the region.
Pennsylvania's electric sector is on its way to a
cleaner future. Modernizing the state's power
plants and incorporating complementary renewable
resources will reduce emissions and... reduce deaths and illness
...spark investment and create jobs
...increase fuel diversity
...lock in long-term economic benefits for
Support for EPA's air rules is an essential step
“New Jobs – Cleaner Air: Employment Effects Under Planned Changes to the EPA’s Air Pollution
Rules,” Ceres and PERI, February 2011.
“New Jobs – Cleaner Air Part II: An investment in American Businesses and American Jobs," Ceres and
ICAC, November 2011.
“2011 Long-Term Reliability Assessment,” North American Electric Reliability Corporation, November
“Net Loss: Comparing the Cost of Pollution vs. the Value of Electricity from 51 Coal-Fired Plants,”
Environmental Integrity Project, June 2012.
“Regulatory Impact Analysis for the Final Mercury and Air Toxics Standards,” EPA, December 2011.
U.S. Department of Energy, Energy Information Administration, Form 423.
U.S. Department of Energy, Energy Information Administration, Form 860.
U.S. Department of Energy, Energy Information Administration, Form
U.S. Environmental Protection Agency, NEEDs database v. 4.10.
Additional information retrieved from company websites, press releases, and SEC filings.
Thank You!
Conrad Schneider
Clean Air Task Force
[email protected]

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