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ConEd challenges EPA as New York gets set for Climate Week

By Sabina Mollot

Con Edison, as part of a coalition of utility companies, is trying to challenge the Environmental Protection Agency’s (EPA) Affordable Clean Energy Rule (ACE) and the repeal of the Obama-era Clean Power Plan.

While both policies are aimed at reducing emissions from coal-fired utilities, the Affordable Clean Energy Rule, implemented by President Trump as an alternative to the former administration’s policy, has been opposed by some states and environmental advocates who’ve blasted it as a watered down and ineffective version.

The Clean Power Plan aimed to cut emissions from the electricity sector by an estimated 32 percent below 2005 levels by 2030.

According to the EPA, the new plan could cut emissions even more, up to 35 percent.

However, opponents to the changes say this would have more to do with industry forces rather than the policy itself having any teeth.

In an official statement, Con Ed said the rollback of the Clean Power Plan will hurt, rather than help its own efforts to achieve real reductions in greenhouse gas emissions.

Con Edison, and the other private and public utilities, filed a petition in the District of Columbia Circuit Court of Appeals on Monday.

The coalition – called The Power Companies Climate Coalition – issued a statement citing higher costs to both customers and the industry as a result of the new rule.

The companies also argued that it prohibits the power sector from using the more effective emission reduction measures, such as emissions trading (averaging and increasing generation from lower-emitting sources) that it has used in the past.

The coalition includes nine utilities, including PSE&G, National Grid USA and Exelon Corporation. The Clean Power Plan also faced legal challenges.

The legal challenge comes as New York is poised to celebrate Climate Week, running from Monday, September 23 to Sunday, September 29.

Established in 2009, Climate Week is a summit organized by the UN and the city of New York for businesses, government leaders, academic institutions and non-profits to meet, alongside the UN General Assembly, to discuss global climate action. Last year there were 150 events and this year even more are expected to take place.

An issue of concern to the real estate industry that is likely to be a hot topic is the Green New Deal.

Unveiled by Mayor Bill de Blasio earlier this year, the plan is aimed at cutting emissions from buildings and making them more energy efficient.

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