Is converting coal to gas the right move?
At the federal level, the EPA has spent the last several years working on new rules to limit carbon emissions on power plants.
With the re-election of President Obama, the implementation of those rules is expected to accelerate. At the same time, state- and regional-level energy regulators (e.g., the Regional Greenhouse Gas Initiative and state environmental quality agencies such as the California Air Resources Board) are implementing their own environmental regulations to limit carbon dioxide and other emissions from coal plants.
A significant number of regulations for coal plants will be coming into force within the next several years.
In the past, the power and utilities industry has shown that as an environmental mandate nears, competition among utilities for scarce resources tends to drive up the all-in costs of compliance.
While there exists significant uncertainty as to the exact timing and stringency of regulations, adopting a wait-and-see approach may not be the prudent path forward.