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From Big Pivots No. 41, July 9, 2021

Utah says ozone levels caused by wildfires and Chinese pollution

Air quality has improved along the Wasatch front in Utah. There’s less particulate matter. As for the unseen but difficult ozone, Utah leaders seek a reprieve from a federal reclassification because, they say, the sources lie beyond the state’s control. They cite nearby wildfires and the pollution from Chinese power plants.

The Salt Lake Tribune says they acknowledge current studies lack sufficient rigor, but they want the Environmental Protection Agency to give them a chance to prove it.

Environmentalists scoffed.

“If all cities and states, such as Los Angeles, blamed their emissions problems on international sources and the difficulty of reducing ozone concentrations, as Utah is attempting with its Demonstration, there would be no steps taken—including by states whose pollution impacts Utah—to reduction pollution,” Joro Walker, staff attorney with Western Resource Advocates, told the Tribune.

The EPA is about to reclassify the non-attainment status from “marginal” to “moderate,” says the Tribune. This would kick in mandatory emission reductions and planning for the northern half of the Wasatch Front.

Clean fuel standard to go before legislators next year in New Mexico

A clean fuel standard that would require a 10% reduction in the carbon intensity of fuel used for transportation by 2030 and 28% by 2040 will almost certainly be on the legislative agenda next year in New Mexico.

The Albuquerque Journal reports Alicia J. Keyes, the state’s economic development secretary, told a forum that the proposal will be to the agenda of next year’s 30-day session.

Keyes said the proposal would give companies that make, produce, or refine fuels the option of buying credits from producers of hydrogen or other low-carbon fuels or from businesses that reduce their emissions. This would create a market that supports say would spur investment in clean energy. She cited California’s law, which she said has boosted employment in biomass, wind, and solar.

July 14 a red-letter date for Tri-State in its tussle with dissident members

The time seems to be drawing near for the reckoning of Tri-State Generation & Transmission with its members.

The wholesale provider has until July 14 to tell the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission why its tariff constitutes a “clear and transparent procedures” for its member electrical cooperatives who may want to get out.

“The lack of clear and transparent exist provision has allowed Tri-State to impose substantial barriers for its utility members in evaluating whether to remain in Tri-State,” says the order, which was issued on June 17.

The order went on to say that Tri-State had 30 days to show why its rules are “just and reasonable and not unduly discriminatory or preferential” or explain what changes are needed to make them so.

First Kit Carson Electric and then Delta-Montrose Electric left Tri-State, the latter in 2020 after contentious jousting. United Power then wanted an exit fee—and got one, which it proclaims as out of the ballpark. Durango-based La Plata also wanted a figure. An administrative law judge at the Colorado Public Utilities Commission in summer 2020 issued a decision that basically drew a straight line between the exit fees paid by Kit Carson and Delta-Montrose and said that United and La Plata should have to pay proportionate fees. But the Colorado PUC commissioners did not take up the recommendation because of Tri-State’s insistence that the federal agency has jurisdiction.

The order by the federal agency was provoked by a complaint filed in February by United and La Plata, joined by 2 other cooperatives in Colorado, 2 in Nebraska, and one in New Mexico.

For more background, see Big Pivots 35, i.e. April 18, 2020, or go to Why S&P knocked down its rating for Tri-State form A- to BBB-plus.

 

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