Environmental Regulation, Top Story

EPA Finalizes Generator Use Rule

By Steven Johnson | ECT Staff Writer Published: January 22nd, 2013

Electric cooperatives will be able to use small emergency generators―with restrictions and paperwork requirements―to ensure a stable flow of electricity at the local and regional level, under new federal regulations.

EPA has finalized long-awaited regulations on the use of small emergency generators. (Photo By: iStockphoto)

EPA has finalized long-awaited regulations on the use of small emergency generators. (Photo By: iStockphoto)

In a rule announced Jan. 15, the Environmental Protection Agency said units can run 100 hours a year for emergency demand response, maintenance and testing without being subjected to new federal emissions limits.

Up to 50 of those hours can be used in non-emergency circumstances to prevent situations that could lead to a local or regional power disruption, according to the agency. EPA said it crafted that language, in part, in response to input from NRECA and its members.

For peak-shaving purposes, EPA will permit generator use of up to 50 hours annually, but only until May 3, 2014.

In the last three years, co-op representatives have filed hundreds of comments and met with EPA. They have pointed out how they use RICE units for demand-response, and how limited, targeted use of peak shaving helps to increase capacity and keep electric rates affordable.

Kirk Johnson, NRECA senior vice president, government relations, said NRECA is disappointed that the final rule did not retain a four-year period that had been included in an earlier EPA proposal for peak shaving.

“We were able to retain some peak shaving, because of the significant effort NRECA and our members put into our advocacy before EPA political and technical staff. EPA was under immense pressure to drop peak shaving all together,” he said.

Johnson added that NRECA and member co-ops also were able to improve the emergency demand-response sections significantly as a result of their advocacy efforts.

As of 2015, all emergency generators will be required to use ultra-low sulfur diesel fuel if they run more than 15 hours annually.

Also, co-ops and entities that operate emergency generators of more than 100 horsepower for up to 100 hours a year for blackout and brownout prevention will need to collect and submit an annual report including location, dates, and times of operation.

EPA said it will continue the practice of waiving control requirements and emission limits during emergencies, such as hurricanes and ice storms.

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