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EPA's Clean Power Plan likely to expand farm opportunities

EPA's Clean Power Plan likely to expand farm opportunities
Renewable energy resources and farms may get a power boost with EPA's Clean Power Plan.

The Obama Administration's proposed Clean Power Plan may not be good news for the coal industry. But it has environmentalists, alternative energy companies, even farms rubbing their hands in glee.

Related: Tap into Farm Energy IQ power

States already expanding wind, solar, natural gas and methane-generation power generation already are at work crafting growth plans. And the rules being written by U.S. EPA aren't even published yet.

NEW AGE OF FARM POWER: With additional incentives coming via the Clean Power Plan, more farms may be tapping solar power like Scott Clewell is already doing with his two solar arrays.

The Clean Power Plan sets a nationwide goal of cutting carbon emissions by 32% from 2005 levels by 2030, with progress towards those reductions by 2022. The final EPA rule will be published in the Federal Register on September 4, 2015. That'll be followed by a 60-day public comment period.

States already powering up plans
Vermont and other New England states, for instance, have incentives and/or mandates for removing biodegradable wastes from landfills, shifting them to digester facilities, a number of which are already on larger-scale livestock and poultry farms.

Pennsylvania Governor Tom Wolf sees it as an opportunity to create economic opportunity in the state's energy economy. The plan, he says, "sets ambitious but achievable goals for reducing carbon emissions statewide and addressing climate change in fair and smart ways that takes into account legitimate concerns of all parties.

"Pennsylvania is a leader in energy," he elaborates, "and we need to do everything in our power to advance the next generation of energy production while protecting jobs in Pennsylvania. Clean coal is a part of our energy portfolio, as is natural gas, solar, wind, and other sources of power. All of this has to be part of a comprehensive strategy."

Related: Where solar's payback comes from

A Pennsylvania public comment period on the EPA rule will begin in early September, with additional comment periods over the next three years as the state's plan is drafted.

"We'll make certain that we craft a Pennsylvania solution that protects the state's vital role as a net electricity exporter," adds Department of Environmental Protection Secretary John Quigley. "We'll also explore different methods of reaching the required reductions and options of partnering with fellow states."

"Cutting pollution from power plants, utilizing natural gas, supporting nuclear power plants, increasing the amount of renewable energy in Pennsylvania, and improving energy efficiency statewide all can fight climate change and be an economic driver," he says. "When our businesses upgrade power plants, install solar panels or improve energy efficiency, that's a win for the environment and for Pennsylvania's economy."

Related: Biodigester offers strong payback for dairy farmer

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