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House Committee Considers New Rules for Certain Electrical Generators

The House Environmental Resources & Energy Committee held a hearing to discuss legislation that would impose pollution controls on certain “demand response” generators. House Bill 1699 would require backup generators that participate in profitable demand response programs to register with the Department of Environmental Protection and certify compliance with emissions limits.
The bill’s sponsor, Rep. Chris Ross (R-Chester) said he supports both demand respond and conservation measures, however, the unintended consequences are that some of the demand response that has been introduced into the system is in the form of generation through diesel generators that do not have emission controls attached to the systems.
Supporters of HB1699 claim the legislation is needed because the federal Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) softened its initial position of a few years ago that RICE be limited to only 15 hours of operation. According to the EPA, legal challenges, other petitions, public comment and new technical information made available to the agency prompted it to alter the limit, increasing it to 100 hours.
“Because these facilities, currently, are not being required to meet air quality standards, there are a number of these, particularly diesel generators, that are emitting [pollutants] and emitting at a time of relatively challenged air quality anyway, so they can wind up adding to the problem of air pollution at a time when many of them are being used,” said Ross.
In addition, self-generating end-users who use those generators in non-emergency situations, could receive payments as they sell some of the electricity they generate back to utilities as part of a demand response program.
EnerNOC, the state’s largest DR firm, estimated that approximately $50 million will be paid to Pennsylvania DR participants in 2013. DR efforts have been credited with helping to avert significant power disruptions during the last few years. EnerNOC is opposed to HB 1699 because it “would impose unnecessary and burdensome regulations on Pennsylvania businesses and institutions that go well beyond what has been deemed necessary by the Obama EPA.”