Cornyn Says EPA's New Rule Too Burdensome For Texas Power Grid

U.S. Senator John Cornyn says a new air pollution rule from the EPA will put further stress on the state's electrical grid. He says the new environmental restrictions could force some power plants to shut down, and that could lead to rolling outages. KUHF Health Science and Technology reporter Carrie Feibel explains.

In a visit to Houston’s East End, Cornyn told senior citizens that he’s concerned their electric bills could go up.

The reason? The new EPA rule would force the state’s dirtiest coal plants to shutdown.

“The impact of this proposed rule would be to reduce for a significant period of time our electricity generation capacity by perhaps as much as eight percent or more.”

The new EPA rule would be phased in starting in January. It would require power plants in 27 states to reduce airborne emissions that form ozone, soot and other air pollutants. 

Theresa Gage is with ERCOT, the state’s grid operator.

She believes that three plants would probably have to shut down completely, and other plants might have to install more environmental equipment.

“Given the tight timeline that the EPA has put on this rule’s implementation ERCOT is concerned it that it will affect generation adequacy.”

ERCOT will release a study Thursday with more details.

The chair of the Public Utility Commission, Donna Nelson, joined Cornyn in Houston.

“We will have outages if this rule goes into effect.”

Nelson says if some plants must shutdown, there won’t be time to build other plants to replace them.

Capacity will drop, leading to shortages and possible price increases.

“It takes three or more years to build a generation facility and it takes about that same time to retrofit it. And so there’s no way we can meet this deadline.”

Nelson says the Public Utility Commission will file a lawsuit against the rule.

The EPA did not respond to a request for comment before deadline.

From the KUHF Health Science and Technology Desk, I’m Carrie Feibel.

Bio photo of Carrie Feibel

Carrie Feibel

Health & Science Reporter

Carrie Feibel is KUHF's health and science reporter. She comes to Houston Public Radio after ten years as a print reporter...