WASHINGTON The U.S.
Environmental Protection Agency has taken "unprecedented" steps
to ensure that new regulations dont threaten steel
producers electrical security, the agencys deputy
administrator told members of the Steel Manufacturers
Power plants have up to five
years to comply with new emissions standards, EPA deputy
administrator Bob Perciasepe said at the SMAs annual
convention in Washington. "Were pretty sure the five-year
period is going to cover virtually everybody."
Some members of the steel
industry are concerned that the mercury and air toxics
standards, which will require significant cuts in emissions,
could threaten the supply of electricity needed to run
electric-arc furnaces (EF). Many older, coal-fired power plants
are expected to shut down as a result of the standards.
Perciasepe did not comment on possible changes in utility
prices that could result from the new regulations and related
closures, but he emphasized that a secure power supply is one
of the agencys priorities.
The standards, introduced in
December, give power plants three years to reduce air
emissions. The agency also has provided for a fourth-year grace
period, which individual states can grant to power plants that
need extra time to meet the new standards. And in what
Perciasepe described as an "unprecedented" move, the EPA
approved a fifth year for power plants that prove they need
more time to comply.
Perciasepe also emphasized that
the EPA has no authority to shut down a plant. "The (U.S.)
Secretary of Energy has the authority to order a plant to keep
operating if its needed for power purposes," he said.
In the meantime, Perciasepe
recommended that those concerned should reach out to their
local planning organizations in advance of the 2015 deadline.
"I would recommend that in the early part of the five years
. . . that you make sure you get to your regional
planning organization to know what theyre doing," he