Impact on the steam electric power industry of deleting Section 316(a) of the Clean Water Act: Energy and environmental impacts

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Many power plants discharge large volumes of cooling water. In some cases, the temperature of the discharge exceeds state thermal requirements. Section 316(a) of the Clean Water Act (CWA) allows a thermal discharger to demonstrate that less stringent thermal effluent limitations would still protect aquatic life. About 32% of the total steam electric generating capacity in the United States operates under Section 316(a) variances. In 1991, the US Senate proposed legislation that would delete Section 316(a) from the CWA. This study, presented in two companion reports, examines how this legislation would affect the steam electric power industry. This report quantitatively … continued below

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39 p.

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Veil, J. A.; VanKuiken, J. C.; Folga, S. & Gillette, J. L. January 1, 1993.

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Many power plants discharge large volumes of cooling water. In some cases, the temperature of the discharge exceeds state thermal requirements. Section 316(a) of the Clean Water Act (CWA) allows a thermal discharger to demonstrate that less stringent thermal effluent limitations would still protect aquatic life. About 32% of the total steam electric generating capacity in the United States operates under Section 316(a) variances. In 1991, the US Senate proposed legislation that would delete Section 316(a) from the CWA. This study, presented in two companion reports, examines how this legislation would affect the steam electric power industry. This report quantitatively and qualitatively evaluates the energy and environmental impacts of deleting the variance. No evidence exists that Section 316(a) variances have caused any widespread environmental problems. Conversion from once-through cooling to cooling towers would result in a loss of plant output of 14.7-23.7 billion kilowatt-hours. The cost to make up the lost energy is estimated at $12.8-$23.7 billion (in 1992 dollars). Conversion to cooling towers would increase emission of pollutants to the atmosphere and water loss through evaporation. The second report describes alternatives available to plants that currently operate under the variance and estimates the national cost of implementing such alternatives. Little justification has been found for removing the 316(a) variance from the CWA.

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39 p.

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OSTI; NTIS; INIS; GPO Dep.

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  • Other Information: PBD: Jan 1993

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  • January 1, 1993

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  • Nov. 3, 2018, 11:47 a.m.

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  • Nov. 19, 2018, 7:16 p.m.

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Veil, J. A.; VanKuiken, J. C.; Folga, S. & Gillette, J. L. Impact on the steam electric power industry of deleting Section 316(a) of the Clean Water Act: Energy and environmental impacts, report, January 1, 1993; Illinois. (https://digital.library.unt.edu/ark:/67531/metadc1319506/: accessed July 29, 2021), University of North Texas Libraries, UNT Digital Library, https://digital.library.unt.edu; crediting UNT Libraries Government Documents Department.

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