lessening environmental stress or damage avoidance through overcompliance, especially in regions that are not attaining ambient air quality standards. For example, for the purposes of this study, the committee attributed a value of $2300 per metric tonne to the avoided damages associated with NOx emissions.
As with NOx controls, DOE’s most important role in FGD has been cost sharing ($117 million, or approximately 50 percent of DOE’s expenditure) the demonstration of a suite of advanced, reduced-cost, reliable, improved-efficiency systems for a wide range of U.S. coal and boiler applications. Since no new coal-fired boilers have been built for several years and the first-phase acid rain control provisions of the 1990 Clean Air Act Amendments (CAAA) have been met mainly by fuel switching and emissions trading, few advanced FGD systems have been installed. Therefore, realized economic benefits from the FGD program, estimated to be $1 billion, are limited to lower-cost compliance associated with (1) the application of advanced process technology to existing units and (2) the addition of several second-generation units to existing plants to meet the Phase 2 Acid Rain (Clean Air Act Title IV) SO2 reductions that are expected to be installed by utilities in the next 5 years. However, in large part, the benefits of FGD systems developed with DOE funds will occur in the future as new coal plants are built and existing plants will have to meet more stringent SO2 control requirements.
DOE, in partnership with the Electric Power Research Institute (EPRI), EPA, utilities, and others, has collected significant and valuable information characterizing solid wastes from conventional and advanced coal-based power systems. In addition, it has assessed waste disposal options and conducted research and demonstration on alternative waste utilization options. This research has resulted in realized economic benefits, estimated by the committee to be on the order of $3 billion, that derive from enabling EPA to set less stringent control requirements than it might otherwise have set. In addition, DOE’s research on waste utilization resulted in economic benefits associated with the use of coal combustion wastes and FGD sludge. DOE also provides knowledge that continues to be shared with EPA to assist in developing Resource Conservation and Recovery Act (RCRA) regulations governing disposal of coal wastes and that resulted in avoided costs of unnecessary regulation. The information on waste utilization options is available to both vendors and utilities. As a result, the avoided costs from this program are considered to be substantial.
As it did with the waste management program, DOE has played a substantial role in characterizing air toxic emissions from conventional and advanced power systems and is supporting research on control technology for mercury, currently viewed as the most severe air toxic problem facing coal-fired power plants. DOE, EPA, and EPRI collaborated on the most extensive study of hazardous air pollution from domestic utilities, enabling EPA to focus its regulatory efforts on the one believed to be of most concern—mercury. Realized economic benefits cannot be attributed to cost savings associated with focusing EPA on just one pollutant, mercury, at this time since regulations have not yet been promulgated. The information on air toxic emissions and emissions control options will be available to vendors and utilities to consider if EPA decides to promulgate regulations at some future time. As a result, the options and knowledge benefits from this program are considered to be substantial.
DOE expended over $2.5 billion on electricity production technologies from 1978 through 2000. As shown in Fig-