Energy Regulation: A Dramatic Year on Tap

Adam Maier

The Obama administration has made it clear that 2015 will be a busy year for energy regulatory bodies. Its energy agenda for the coming year promises to tackle multiple ongoing issues, including fracking, emissions, interstate air pollution, the retirement of coal-burning power plants, and climate change.

With these topics driving mainstream news, it’s unsurprising that year-over-year, regulation remained the second biggest driver of energy and sustainability initiatives in our recently-conducted 2015 Energy and Sustainability Predictions survey. Federal, state, and municipal-level energy, waste, and carbon regulations maintain their influential place as a force of energy management change in part because the introduction of new regulation is outpacing industry’s implementation of that regulation. In 2014 alone, 27 new regulatory laws or mandates were approved, and several more remain on the docket. The current administration’s agenda makes it clear that this trend will continue at a faster pace during the final years of the Obama presidency, putting pressure on organizations to play catch-up with energy benchmarking, reporting, and auditing criteria.

While political factors make the outcome of the Obama administration’s aggressive energy policy efforts difficult to predict, some of the major changes we anticipate in 2015 include:

  • Square feet reporting requirements continuing to shrink, impacting more and smaller organizations;
  • Increasing attention to requirement enforcement, heightening the stakes of noncompliance;
  • The introduction and enforcement of more mandates requiring energy reporting at the time of property sale; and
  • New waste legislation that will cause recycling, composting, and plastic ban mandates to apply to a broader range of businesses.

While the year is still young, it has already been a busy one for federal energy regulation. January marked the beginning of EPA regulation that limits some types of air pollution from coal-burning power plants that cross state lines, as well as new air pollution regulation for fracked oil and gas wells. In April, power plants will be required to comply with EPA mercury and air toxin regulations that are inciting utilities to shut down outdated coal plants. EPA will also announce plans to curb methane pollution from oil and gas operations and finalize regulation limiting carbon dioxide pollution from coal- and gas-fired power plants. Coal-fired power plants will also see new regulation on water pollution discharges, and states will face tighter air quality standards for protecting the ozone, which many are predicting as the most expensive federal regulation ever introduced.

As this ambitious energy policy takes shape, it will become even more important for companies to invest in solutions that can help them track and manage their consumption of resources and disposal of refuse. Volatile resource costs, corporate responsibility expectations from consumers, associates, and investors, and as our 2015 Energy and Sustainability Predictions Report points out, regulatory pressure are all driving organizations to implement sustainability initiatives. Ecova’s energy and sustainability solutions help organizations strengthen their sustainability efforts, ensuring the cost-effective mitigation of unintended environmental impacts and compliance with a growing body of regulations.

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