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Avi Allison joins Synapse as an associate. He was previously a research assistant at the Yale Center for Environmental Law and Policy, where he gathered and analyzed data used to create an international Environmental Performance Index that ranks how well countries perform on high-priority environmental issues. Ariel Horowitz, PhD, joins us as a senior associate after completing her doctoral thesis on the field of energy storage at Tufts University.

Emissions trading programs are a long-established mechanism used by environmental regulators to reduce air pollution from the electric sector. In this series of posts, we explore how EPA has designed the Clean Power Plan to facilitate the buying and selling of credits representing emissions reductions at fossil-fuel fired power plants. Part 1 focused on rate-based trading. Part 2 explores how states can trade allowances representing tons of CO2 emissions.

Under EPA’s final Clean Power Plan, states must submit initial compliance plans or demonstrate progress toward that goal by September 2016. The Synapse Clean Power Plan Toolkit can help state agencies, public interest groups, and others zero in on cost-effective compliance plan options for any state or region affected by the rulemaking.

The proposed merger between Exelon Corporation and Pepco Holdings Incorporated (PHI) will likely be rejected after the District of Columbia Public Service Commission denied the petition on August 27, ruling that the $6.4 billion transaction is not in the public interest.

In a series of recent briefs on the consumer costs of low-emissions futures, Synapse demonstrates that a Clean Energy Future scenario that exceeds the emissions targets of EPA’s Clean Power Plan can also lower electricity bills nationwide. The idea that investing heavily in clean energy and energy efficiency programs will save households money may be surprising to some, but in the third and final brief in the series, released today, Synapse discusses the logic behind why this is the case and why—if it’s so appealing—states haven’t already embarked on similar trajectories.

In this series of posts, we explore how EPA has designed the Clean Power Plan to facilitate the buying and selling of credits representing emissions reductions at fossil-fuel fired power plants. Part 1 focuses on rate-based trading. Part 2 will explore how states can trade allowances representing tons of CO2 emissions.

New federal environmental regulations call for substantial emissions reductions from U.S. power grids. For a system designed for fossil fuel resources, this will mean transforming the grid to accommodate large increases in renewable energy resources. Opponents of such regulations claim that the integration of these resources will impose high costs on the system, in particular those related to maintaining reliability standards. A new Synapse study finds that these claims are overblown, and that the costs to integrate increased amounts of wind and solar energy are minimal. Actual costs found by integration studies across the country are on the order of half a cent per kilowatt-hour of energy the resource produces, according to the Synapse literature review.

EPA’s final Clean Power Plan differs from the version proposed last year in several non-trivial ways. In fact, the basic framework of the rule—the way in which the EPA sets states’ targets for emissions reductions and the options for meeting those targets—has changed. As part of our ongoing series of webinars on the final Clean Power Plan, Synapse will present a webinar next Tuesday that drills into the details of EPA’s new method for calculating states’ targets and the differences between the seven compliance pathways (of which there were two in the proposed rule).

A key challenge that EPA, state agencies, and public interest groups involved in Clean Power Plan compliance planning are likely to face during the development of state plans, trading program initiation, and compliance demonstration, has to do with how emissions displacement interacts with state compliance options—and rate-based options in particular.

A key benefit of renewable energy is that electricity generated from new renewable resources displaces electricity generated from other types of power plants. In doing so, renewables reduce the consumption of fossil fuel and production of fossil fuel-related carbon dioxide emissions. In the Clean Power Plan originally proposed by EPA in June 2014, this effect was ignored when setting emissions targets for states: EPA’s formula omitted this effect. In the final version of the rule, released Monday, states’ targets do account for emissions displaced by renewable generation.

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