Mar 23, 2021 - Energy & Environment

Imagining power sector climate legislation

Reproduced from Rhodium Group; Chart: Axios Visuals
Reproduced from Rhodium Group; Chart: Axios Visuals

A Rhodium Group analysis maps out legislative options it says would steeply cut power sector emissions without hiking consumer bills.

Why it matters: One of President Biden's more aggressive goals is 100% carbon-free U.S. power by 2035, but policy pathways to get there are murky.

The big picture: That chart above shows Rhodium's "investment scenario."

That's a model tax incentive package to accelerate renewables, retain existing nuclear and hydro generation, retire coal- and gas-fired plants, and retrofit remaining gas-fired plants with CO2 capture.

By the numbers: The scenario, which folds in some existing plans rattling around Congress, would curb power sector emissions by an estimated 66%-74% below 2005 levels by 2031.

  • Tack on some new federal regulations and the reductions are somewhat steeper.
  • Rhodium estimates that the legislative ideas would together about double the $10.5 billion in current federal clean-energy tax incentive costs.
  • "We estimate that the average net annual budget outlay from 2022-2031 is $14.9 (billion)-$20.3 billion depending on technology costs," the analysis notes, adding it doesn't capture other ideas like incentives for building high-voltage transmission.

The intrigue: The analysis says their plan fits under budget reconciliation — the Senate procedure that enables spending and tax provisions to move with a simple majority.

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