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Implications of Clean Air Act Section 111(d) Compliance for North Carolina

Since the mid-2000s, North Carolina has increased natural gas generation, reduced coal dependence, established a renewable energy and energy-efficiency portfolio standard, and taken other actions that will assist it in meeting new carbon emissions targets under the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency’s proposed Clean Power Plan (CPP) promulgated under Clean Air Act (CAA) section 111(d). The CPP, as proposed, assigns state-specific emissions rate targets for existing fossil-fueled generators—targets adjusted for levels of renewable generation and energy efficiency measures. This analysis examines possible implications of meeting proposed CPP targets in North Carolina. To achieve those targets, North Carolina will increasingly shift from coal-fired to natural gas-fired electricity generation, incurring a modest rise in resource costs but creating a potentially significant revenue stream, which policy makers must decide how to allocate. Although the CPP will likely drive down overall emissions in North Carolina, the reductions are smaller than might be expected because North Carolina has already made headway in meeting its emissions targets and because new natural gas generation that is not covered under the 111(d) mass-based target will likely be a component of compliance. Alternative compliance measures, such as specific zero-carbon (e.g., nuclear and solar) investments and increased energy efficiency, reduce future natural gas dependence and hedge against natural gas price risk, though potentially at a cost higher than market-based compliance.

Authors: Etan Gumerman, David Hoppock, and Dennis Bartlett

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Climate & Energy

Clean Air Act

Policy and Design

Reports

Federal Resource Management and Ecosystem Services Guidebook

Many of the benefits nature provides to people are poorly accounted for in management decisions because resource managers haven’t had access to materials and tools that support this undertaking. This guidebook developed by the National Ecosystem Services Partnership, federal agencies, and other partners addresses this need. It allows resource managers to better communicate with people about the positive and negative effects of natural resource management decisions. It also helps them explicitly consider how to balance outcomes that matter to people and to avoid unintended consequences.

Editor: Lydia Olander

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Ecosystem Services

Reports

Innovating for a Sustainable and Resilient Water Future: A Report from the 2014 Aspen-Nicholas Water Forum

Water crises are not the outcome of climate change, population growth, new con­taminants, or financial constraints but of the convergence of these challenges combined with the realities of undervalued water, policies that preserve the status quo, and under-financed and degraded water systems. To address the urgent need for infrastructure upgrades and resilience building in U.S. water systems as well as the need for leadership and synergistic action in the space, the Aspen-Nicholas Water Forum in May 2014 brought together water experts with diverse knowledge—from finance and policy to technology and ecosystems. This report captures ideas and sentiments expressed during the forum. The report concludes with five priorities for near-term action: (1) disseminating innovations developed by leading utilities to smaller utilities, (2) strengthening water sector leadership and innovation for climate change resilience, (3) generating awareness about the value of water, (4) facilitating data integration to improve water management, and (5) addressing federal-state-local tensions in water resource management. All these challenges represent nascent opportunities for increasing water sustainability—but they cannot be addressed by a single sector of the water industry, a single layer of government, or a single type of investor. Synergetic approaches are needed to develop truly novel solutions.

 

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Water

Health and Sanitation

Allocation

Quality

Reports

Structure of the Dynamic Integrated Economy/Energy/Emissions Model: Electricity Component, DIEM-Electricity

This paper, a companion to NI WP 14-12, describes the structure of, and data sources for, the electricity component of the Dynamic Integrated Economy/Energy/Emissions Model (DIEM), which was developed at the Nicholas Institute for Environmental Policy Solutions at Duke University. The DIEM model includes a macroeconomic, or computable general equilibrium (CGE), component and an electricity component that gives a detailed representation of U.S. regional electricity markets. The electricity model (DIEM-Electricity) discussed in thus paper can be run as a stand-alone model or can be linked to the DIEM-CGE macroeconomic model to incorporate feedbacks among economy-wide energy policies and electricity generation decisions and interactions between electricity-sector policies and the rest of the U.S and global economies. Broadly, DIEM-Electricity is a dynamic linear-programming model of U.S. wholesale electricity markets that represents intermediate- to long-run decisions about generation, capacity planning, and dispatch of units. It provides results for generation, capacity, investment, and retirement by type of plant. It also determines wholesale electricity prices, production costs, fuel use, and CO2 emissions. Currently, the model can consider, at a national policy level, renewable portfolio standards, clean energy standards, caps on electricity-sector CO2 emissions, and carbon taxes.

Author: Martin T. Ross

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Policy and Design

Environmental Economics

Climate Change Policy

Energy Sector

Modeling

Working Papers

Structure of the Dynamic Integrated Economy/Energy/Emissions Model: Computable General Equilbrium Component, DIEM-CGE

This paper, a companion to NI WP 14-11, describes the structure of, and data sources for, the macroeconomic component of the Dynamic Integrated Economy/Energy/Emissions Model (DIEM), which was developed at the Nicholas Institute for Environmental Policy Solutions at Duke University. The DIEM model includes a macroeconomic, or computable general equilibrium (CGE), component and an electricity component that gives a detailed representation of U.S. regional electricity markets, DIEM-Electricity. The DIEM-CGE component can be run as a stand-alone model to look at both global and U.S. domestic policies related to the economy, energy, or greenhouse gas emissions. Alternatively, DIEM-CGE can be linked to DIEM-Electricity to investigate the macroeconomic impacts of policies affecting electricity generation. This paper describes DIEM-CGE’s model structure, data sources, representations of production technologies, and possible linkages to DIEM-Electricity. It provides an overview of the model and details of the equilibrium structure underlying the model. It presents the production equations and discusses the model’s data and forecast sources. It also presents information on the model’s greenhouse gas emissions and abatement options as well as details of the linkage between DIEM-CGE and DIEM-Electricity.

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Environmental Economics

Climate Change Policy

Energy Sector

Modeling

Working Papers

Apples and Oranges: Assessing the Stringency of EPA’s Clean Power Plan

An accurate assessment of the stringency of state emissions goals under EPA’s proposed Clean Power Plan compares state emissions goals to adjusted state emissions rates that incorporate known and reasonably foreseeable measures that will affect CO2 emissions from existing power plants. These adjusted emissions rates may include projections of actual generation and emissions, which may differ from the building block assumptions used in EPA’s Clean Power Plan. In addition, projections in performance levels can reflect the emissions and generation impacts that compliance measures will have on the electricity system. Consideration of these impacts can lead to a more accurate comparison of a state’s projected CO2 performance level to its final emissions goal under the Clean Power Plan and result in state plans that are optimized for the degree of required emission reduction.

Authors: Jeremy M. Tarr and David Hoppock

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Climate & Energy

Clean Air Act

Policy and Design

Journal Articles

Designing CO2 Performance Standards for a Transitioning Electricity Sector: A Multi-Benefits Framework

A significant transition is under way within the electricity sector due to several market forces, retirement of certain plants, and regulatory pressure. There is notable overlap between available strategies for mitigating electricity sector risks and potential compliance strategies for states under the Clean Power Plan. This overlap presents regulators with an opportunity to pursue strategies that help manage the transition occurring in the electricity sector and achieve greenhouse gas reductions required under the Clean Power Plan, particularly in the areas of end-use energy efficiency and additional renewable power generation.

Authors: Jonas Monast and David Hoppock

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Climate & Energy

Clean Air Act

Policy and Design

Journal Articles

Environmental and Economic Effects of a Regional Renewable Portfolio Standard with Biomass Carve-outs

The unique generation, landownership, and resource attributes of the southeastern United States make the region a ripe and important test bed for implementation of novel renewable energy policy interventions. This study evaluates the environmental and economic implications of one such intervention, a hypothetical region-wide renewable portfolio standard (RPS) with biomass carve-outs. It utilizes the Forest and Agriculture Sector Optimization Model with Greenhouse Gases (FASOMGHG) to assess the multi-sector and interregional allocation of increased harvest activity to meet the RPS. It then uses the Sub-Regional Timber Supply (SRTS) model to assess the intraregional allocation of harvests within the southeastern United States. The analysis finds that forest biomass is the dominant contributor to the regional RPS; national data suggest a substantial reallocation of harvests across both time and space. Existing resource conditions influence the regional distribution of land use and harvest changes, resulting in a spatially and temporally diverse forest carbon response. Net forest carbon in the Southeast is greater in the RPS Scenario than in the No RPS Scenario in all but the final years of the model run. Accounting for displaced fossil emissions yields substantial net greenhouse gas (GHG) reductions in all assessed time periods. Beyond the RPS, both research methodology and findings are applicable to a broader suite of domestic and international policies.

Authors: Christopher S. Galik, Robert C. Abt, Gregory S. Latta, and Tibor Vegh

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Climate & Energy

Bioenergy

Policy and Design

Working Papers

Why Water Markets Are Not Quick Fixes for Droughts in the Western United States

Because of the peculiar nature of water rights, we should look to market-based transactions as an economically efficient way to reallocate scarce water resources. Nevertheless, because of the need to untangle the hydrologic interconnectedness of water rights and the institutional connectedness of irrigators and delivery institutions in the West, transfers of water will always be expensive and time consuming. Whether municipalities purchase water from farmers and thus bear the transaction costs directly, or the private sector purchases agricultural water, bears the associated risk and transaction costs, and sells it on to municipalities, end users will inevitably pay higher prices for water. Droughts can focus public attention on the value of water and potentially increase willingness-to-pay prices that reflect the transaction costs of tangled western water markets.

Authors: Charles J.P. Podolak and Martin Doyle

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Water

Allocation

Western

Working Papers

Assessing Carbon-Pricing Policy Options in the United States

Much of the focus of efforts to reduce greenhouse gas emissions has been on the pursuit of policy mechanisms that will put a price on carbon. In the United States, such mechanisms have been established in several states and were the central feature of federal legislative proposals of the last decade. With the political failure of those proposals in 2009-2010, creation of a de novo carbon-pricing regime was given little attention—until recently. Calls for fiscal reform and an evolving regulatory setting (especially use of the Clean Air Act to regulate greenhouse gases) might create political appetite for a new effort to pursue a carbon-pricing policy. To inform discussion, this paper identifies and assesses options for establishing a price on carbon in the United States.

Authors: Brian Murray, Tim Profeta, and Billy Pizer

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Environmental Economics

Climate Change Policy

National

Working Papers

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