Potential impacts of 316(B) regulatory controls on economics, electricity reliability, and the environment.

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Nearly half of the US utility-owned steam electric generating capacity is cooled by once-through cooling systems. These plants withdraw cooling water primarily from surface water bodies. Section 316(b) of the Clean Water Act requires that the location, design, construction, and capacity of cooling water intake structures reflect the best technology available (BTA) for minimizing adverse environmental impacts. At present, the US Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) has not yet promulgated applicable implementing regulations governing intake structures; however, the Agency is required by a Consent Decree to develop such regulations. EPA has presented a draft tiered regulatory framework approach that, depending on ... continued below

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14 p.

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Veil, J. A. March 19, 1999.

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Nearly half of the US utility-owned steam electric generating capacity is cooled by once-through cooling systems. These plants withdraw cooling water primarily from surface water bodies. Section 316(b) of the Clean Water Act requires that the location, design, construction, and capacity of cooling water intake structures reflect the best technology available (BTA) for minimizing adverse environmental impacts. At present, the US Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) has not yet promulgated applicable implementing regulations governing intake structures; however, the Agency is required by a Consent Decree to develop such regulations. EPA has presented a draft tiered regulatory framework approach that, depending on site-specific factors, may impose various regulatory burdens on affected utilities. Potential new requirements could range from compiling and submitting existing data to demonstrate that existing conditions at each unit represent BTA to retrofitting plants with closed-cycle cooling systems (primarily cooling towers). If the final regulations require installation of cooling towers or implementation of other costly plant modifications, utilities may elect to close some generating units rather than invest the finds necessary to upgrade them to meet the Section 316(b) requirements. Potentially, some regions of the country may then have a higher proportion of closed units than others, leading to a concern over the reliability of those regions' electricity supply. If a significant number of plants convert from once-through cooling systems to cooling towers, the environment will face secondary adverse impacts, such as additional fuel usage, air emissions, and water evaporation, and utilities will need to construct additional generating capacity. This paper describes a study that Argonne National Laboratory will conduct for the US Department of Energy to explore some of the potential outcomes of EPA's Section 316(b) regulatory process and their impact on economics, electricity supply reliability, and the environment.

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14 p.

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OSTI as DE00012360

Medium: P; Size: 14 pages

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  • Power Generation Impacts on Aquatic Resources Conference, Atlanta, GA (US), 04/12/1999--04/15/1999

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  • Report No.: ANL/EA/CP-98623
  • Grant Number: W-31109-ENG-38
  • Office of Scientific & Technical Information Report Number: 12360
  • Archival Resource Key: ark:/67531/metadc620772

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  • March 19, 1999

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  • June 16, 2015, 7:43 a.m.

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  • April 7, 2017, 2:37 p.m.

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Veil, J. A. Potential impacts of 316(B) regulatory controls on economics, electricity reliability, and the environment., article, March 19, 1999; Illinois. (digital.library.unt.edu/ark:/67531/metadc620772/: accessed September 22, 2017), University of North Texas Libraries, Digital Library, digital.library.unt.edu; crediting UNT Libraries Government Documents Department.