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CVR and the Clean Power Plan

The Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) has been working to implement a plan for reducing the harmful effects of carbon pollution on the environment. Last August EPA introduced an innovative Clean Power Plan (CPP) that seeks to reduce the use of coal energy in favor of more renewable alternatives like solar and wind power. If successful, the US will see a 32 percent reduction in carbon pollution from 2005 levels by 2030. As of this writing, the U.S. Supreme Court has put a hold on the enforcement of the CPP. However, carbon emissions targets will be an important part of power utility operations in the years to come, regardless of the court’s final ruling.
CPP provides guidelines for cutting back on greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions that are tailored to each state’s individual needs and conditions. Much of the initiatives discussed in the plan have been underway for years, but this is the first set of standards under which states are held accountable for reducing carbon emissions. While CPP provides the goals and some guidelines, states must ultimately figure out and institute measures that promote renewable energy. 
Of course, following through on CPP will not be without its challenges. The plan will likely require a major overhaul of the nation’s electric grid. One concern is that CPP does not seem to factor in the cost and time associated with building the infrastructure that would accommodate clean, renewable energy (e.g., wind turbines and solar panels). Another challenge utilities face will be continuing to provide energy that is both reliable and affordable.
Drastically reducing carbon pollution will call for a multipronged approach. One possible method would be to implement Conservation Voltage Reduction (CVR) programs. CVR reduces system and grid equipment loads by manipulating voltage control equipment to lower distribution grid voltages. Utilities can use it to strategically cut power consumption and avoid expensive demand charges or imbalance fees.

In this way, CVR can be used to reduce energy use without consumers having to modify their consumption in any way. While it is not a renewable form of energy, it reduces overall emissions without affecting consumers.
Implementing CVR as part of an overall Demand Response strategy is an economical and simple, yet effective, way to cut back on carbon pollution.
About the Author:
Linda Stevens is Sr. Director of Sales for OATI’s Grid Modernization solutions. She holds a Bachelor’s Degree in Organizational Management and Leadership from Concordia University, St. Paul, MN. Ms. Stevens has dedicated her career to the energy industry. She began in an Investor Owned Utility and learned firsthand about utility operations. This experience transitioned to an energy industry software and technology sales career path with Siemens and, eventually, to OATI. Through a network of direct OATI sales executives, key technology alliances, and an industry leading distribution channel, she drives the strategic sales initiatives for OATI’s Grid Modernization (or Smart Grid) portfolio, with an emphasis on solutions for Cooperatives and Municipals.

June 3, 2016