NRECA Takes Case Against Clean Power Plan to the Supreme Court

(ARLINGTON, Va.) — The National Rural Electric Cooperative Association (NRECA) today joined utilities and 29 states and state agencies in petitioning the U.S. Supreme Court to halt implementation of the Environmental Protection Agency’s (EPA) Clean Power Plan. The D.C. Circuit last week denied multiple requests to stay the rule, which already is inflicting harm on electric co-ops.

“EPA itself predicts the closure or curtailment—this year—of many coal-fired power plants that would remain online absent the rule,” said NRECA Interim CEO Jeffrey Connor. “If that doesn’t meet the judicial criteria for ‘immediate and irreparable harm’ required to trigger a stay, what does?”

NRECA and other petitioners said that for each power plant retired or curtailed, co-ops and other utilities must carefully plan and implement changes to the electric system to replace the lost generation—requiring a very significant outlay of expenses over the next few years. This will lead to lost jobs, economic harm to rural communities and unrecoverable costs where power plants are shut down before the end of their remaining useful life.

“As not-for-profits serving 93 percent of America’s persistent poverty counties, electric co-ops are especially concerned about the significant electric rate increases this would impose on some of our nation’s most vulnerable citizens—families living on fixed incomes or in poverty,” said Connor.

A $5 billion price tag for a single co-op

As an example, petitioners pointed to Basin Electric Power Cooperative, a not-for-profit regional wholesale electric generation and transmission cooperative that owns and/or operates 13 electric generating units in four western states that will be directly impacted by the rule.

Unless the court stays the rule and extends compliance dates, Basin Electric estimates it will have to spend about $330 million just in the next two years in costs attributed solely to complying with the rule. The co-op’s total compliance costs are projected to reach $5 billion.

NRECA has estimated that total compliance costs for electric cooperatives could reach as high as $28 billion over the 2022-2030 compliance period.

“Immediate and irreparable harm already is occurring—and will continue—unless the court halts the Clean Power Plan while separate litigation over its legality plays out,” said Connor.

The National Rural Electric Cooperative Association is the national service organization that represents the nation’s more than 900 private, not-for-profit, consumer-owned electric cooperatives, which provide service to 42 million people in 47 states.