States and Power Companies Highlight Successes in Reducing Carbon Pollution from the Power Sector

December 5, 2013

The Georgetown Climate Center has released a report highlighting successful efforts by states and power companies to reduce carbon pollution from the power sector across the country.

The success stories were initially shared through discussions of state policymakers, power company officials, and Obama Administration officials, following President Obama’s climate plan announcement, during a June 27 meeting convened by the Georgetown Climate Center. A subsequent meeting between state, federal, and power company officials was held on October 28 to continue the discussion about paths the federal government can take to reduce carbon pollution from the power sector.

These stories provide valuable examples and insights for EPA and others as the federal government seeks to build on state and local efforts while developing new carbon pollution reduction standards for the power sector.

Click here to download the report.

The report includes examples from state governments in Minnesota, Colorado, Kentucky, Illinois, Maryland, California, and New York. Power companies that collectively provide electric service or operate power plants in 46 states also shared successful carbon pollution reduction strategies.

The report includes the following success stories:

  • Colorado. Colorado is on track to achieve a 29 percent reduction in carbon pollution from power generation by 2018, in large part due to energy efficiency and renewable energy programs and legislation that requires utilities to develop plans to reduce air pollution. The state requires a 5 percent reduction in peak electricity demand by 2018 and requires that 30 percent of its electricity come from renewable energy by 2020. The renewable energy requirement is expected to avoid 30 million tons of carbon pollution while adding $4.3 billion to the state’s economy and 33,000 jobs during the construction of new renewable power generators.
  • Minnesota. From 2005-2011, Minnesota experienced a 17.5 percent reduction in carbon pollution from the power sector. Policies to reduce carbon emissions, increase renewable energy, and improve energy efficiency helped drive the reductions. The state has a target of reducing energy use by 1.5 percent per year through energy efficiency measures and requires utilities to generate 25 percent of their power from renewables by 2025. Under the 2007 Next Generation Energy Act, Minnesota prohibits new coal-fired power plants that produce a net increase in carbon pollution.
  • Entergy. This New Orleans-based investor-owned utility reduced annual CO2 emissions by 29 percent from 2000 to 2012, even though electric generation over the same period grew by 26 percent. Since 2001, Entergy has spent $14.7 million on 61 energy efficiency improvements that have resulted in $30 million in annual fuel savings. Entergy has also increased the capacity of its nuclear fleet by over 700 MW through upgrades, the equivalent of a new reactor.
  • Xcel Energy. The utility is the largest provider of wind power in the United States, serving 3.4 million electric customers and 1.9 million gas customers in eight states. Growth in its use of cleaner sources of electricity, including renewables, have helped the company reduce carbon emissions by 18 percent from 2005 to 2012 and have put Xcel Energy on pace to reduce carbon emissions by 31 percent from 2005 by 2020. As Xcel has provided customers more wind and solar power, Xcel’s retail electric rates have never gone above the national average.
  • Dominion. As one of the nation’s largest producers and transporters of energy, Dominion serves customers in 15 states in the midwest, mid-Atlantic and northeast regions of the country. Through increased use of natural gas and investments in renewable power, energy efficiency, and technological advances, the firm’s carbon emissions were cut by 31 percent from 2000 to 2011 – even as its total power generation increased by 43 percent.

“These and many other examples shared at our recent workshops illustrate the tremendous potential for reducing carbon emissions if we build on innovative efforts of companies and states from across the country,” says Vicki Arroyo, Executive Director of the Georgetown Climate Center, which is based at Georgetown Law.

To learn more about discussions between states, power companies and the federal government facilitated by the Georgetown Climate Center, visit http://www.georgetownclimate.org/reducing-carbon.