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APPA urges EPA to offer flexible options in effluent guidelines


From the January 24, 2013 issue of Public Power Daily

Originally published January 24, 2013

By Robert Varela
Editorial Director
APPA is seeking assurance that the Environmental Protection Agency’s proposed revisions to the effluent guidelines for electric utilities will include flexible regulatory options and consider the timing of compliance, given the rapidly changing dynamics and economics of the utility sector. Since EPA is reviewing coal ash management at the same time, the added complexity makes it "all the more important that regulatory alternatives be proposed," said APPA Senior Vice President for Government Relations Joe Nipper in a Jan. 16 letter to EPA. 

EPA recently sent the proposed rule to the Office of Management and Budget for review.

Methods to minimize costs might include best management practices, subcategorization, workplace practices and stepwise regulatory targets, Nipper said. EPA also could consider options that are less expensive and less complex to operate than biological systems or zero liquid discharge (ZLD) technology, he said. The very few ZLD plants in the world have produced varying results given their differing coal types "and thus do not appear to be suitable for all coal-fired power plants or all ages of plants."

Materials provided by the agency to date have not helped regulated parties understand "what the regulatory options would be and the real effect of those options on facilities owned and operated by public power," Nipper said. He suggested a meeting where EPA could brief city officials or utility experts on the regulatory options for the guidelines.

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