Each year thousands of people flock to the Energy, Utility & Environment Conference (EUEC), the nation’s largest and longest-running professional and educational event focused on energy, utilities, renewables and the environment — and this year was no different. With more than 2,000 attendees, 400 speakers and 200 exhibits, EUEC 2016 was the place to be for environmental and energy professionals.

Keeping up with the state of the industry is important, and this conference provides a great deal of information. Here’s a quick run-down of some of the hot topics, which focused primarily on air, water and ash-related environmental regulations — including the ever-topical Clean Power Plan (CPP), and rules for Coal Combustion Residuals (CCR) and Effluent Limit Guidelines (ELG):

Clean Power Plan

Of course, in the environmental world, the view is always changing. There’s no better example of that than the Clean Power Plan, which was the focus of many of the presentations at EUEC 2016.

EPA had a high confidence level that the CPP was on track for implementation beginning in 2022, but not a week later, the Supreme Court issued a stay, blocking the rule’s implementation. And although the stay isn’t the final say on the rule, there’s a reasonably good possibility that the rule will either go away or look significantly different after the court rulings.

Coal Combustion Residuals and Effluent Limitation Guidelines

The Coal Combustion Residuals (CCR) rule and Effluent Limit Guidelines (ELG) were both finalized in 2015, and as such, several sessions during the conference centered on what these regulations mean for the industry and what the implications might be for engineering.

Because most utilities are affected by CCR and ELG — and since the rules have tight time frames for compliance — there’s widely held concern about equipment availability and the ability of equipment vendors to keep up with demand. And even with equipment available, there still could be challenges: Some technologies have limited applications, which means some equipment might not be able to meet regulatory limits. Like the CPP, all environmental rules are under legal challenge and, as demonstrated by the CPP, a court ruling can change compliance plans in a hurry.

If you didn’t get a chance to attend this year’s EUEC event, download Burns & McDonnell’s presentations on Energy Storage, ELG and CCR Management to see what you missed, or feel free to reach out to me on LinkedIn to discuss.

Block Andrews is an environmental engineer at Burns & McDonnell. He helps clients make strategic decisions on complex environmental issues, including adding compliance options to existing coal units and retiring or replacing generation.