Environmental Regulation

Co-ops Seek to Adjust Generator Rule

By Steven Johnson | ECT Staff Writer Published: August 20th, 2012

Electric cooperatives have told the Environmental Protection Agency that fine-tuning its standards for small emergency generators could help them ensure the flow of electricity to rural America remains steady and reliable.

EPA has taken final written comments on regulations that will affect how co-ops use small generators for load management. (Photo By: Eaton)

EPA has taken final written comments on regulations that will affect how co-ops use small generators for load management. (Photo By: Eaton)

In comments to the agency, NRECA and a number of co-ops said they appreciated the way EPA has accommodated some of their concerns in the two years that it has weighed new regulations for the units.

Adjusting the amount of time backup generators can run for load-management purposes and removing a 2017 sunset provision “would provide needed flexibility, particularly with respect to the nation’s rural electric grid,” NRECA said.

 The Aug. 9 comments were submitted by Ted Cromwell, senior principal, environmental policy.

The filing will likely be the final opportunity in writing to influence EPA’s rule governing emissions and use of the devices, known as reciprocating internal combustion engines. NRECA will continue a dialogue with EPA as a follow-up to written comments.

Co-ops have filed hundreds of comments and met with EPA officials to point out the effects the standards would have on RICE units, which many co-ops use for various emergency and demand response purposes.

EPA plans to complete the rulemaking in December. More than 900,000 units nationwide will be affected by the series of RICE regulations, though far fewer will be involved by a recent proposal to allow more emergency use.

Under EPA’s latest amendments to the rule, the devices could run up to 100 hours a year for testing, maintenance and emergency demand response without new emissions controls.

Up to 50 of those 100 hours could be used for peak shaving or non-emergency demand response until April 2017, when users would have to retrofit their units or end peak-shaving programs.

NRECA said there is no evidence in the record to justify that 50-hour distinction, and asked the agency to expand the 100-hour limit to include all peak shaving or non-emergency use.

The association also asked the agency to remove the 2017 end date, and grant an additional year of compliance time, if it does not adopt changes that co-ops suggested.

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