The Wolf administration’s plan to put a price on power plants’ carbon dioxide emissions gives special treatment to a highly efficient form of generating energy from fossil fuels.
The technology, known as combined heat and power, creates both electricity and useful heat — increasing energy efficiency for manufacturers, hospitals, university campuses, and urban heating and cooling systems.
It is embraced as a vital tool for driving down energy demand in the industrial and building sectors and as a way to mitigate — and build resilience to — climate change.
But advocates for the technology say the administration’s draft regulations do not do enough to protect combined heat and power plants from new costs that could discourage broader adoption of the systems — and, in one case, could force an existing plant offline periodically in favor of cheaper power from plants with higher carbon emissions.
The state Department of Environmental Protection noted the value of combined heat and power when it crafted a plan to create a carbon emissions cap and pricing program, saying the systems both reduce emissions and benefit the economy.
The proposal is part of Gov. Tom Wolf’s controversial plan to join the Regional Greenhouse Gas Initiative, a multistate pact for cutting climate warming emissions.