Electric Power - Results

The members of the trade associations that comprise Power PartnersSM, along with the Tennessee Valley Authority (TVA) have long been leaders in voluntary GHG reporting. These efforts are now being supplemented by reporting on GHG emissions intensity under the Climate VISION program.

Voluntary Reporting of Greenhouse Gases
Electric utilities, power generators, and TVA currently plan to continue reporting their GHG emissions reduction activities under the voluntary program established under section 1605(b) of the Energy Policy Act of 1992 and administered by EIA. This program provides a means for companies, organizations, and individuals who have reduced their emissions to record their accomplishments and share their ideas for future action. GHG emissions reductions through the program include actual reductions, avoidances, and sequestrations. Reporting under these regimes is the functional equivalent of a monitoring and reporting protocol for the power sector. While the long-term success of Power PartnersSM will be measured by meeting the goal set forth in the Memorandum of Understanding signed with DOE, its short-term achievements can be measured today. In 2004, based on an analysis of 1605(b) data, approximately 445 million metric tons of carbon dioxide (CO2)-equivalent reductions were reported on EIA Form 1605(b) in the United States. This represents a 6.3-percent improvement in reductions compared to 2003. The electric power sector reported the most CO2 reductions of any reporting sector in 2004 (the latest year for which data are available) at more than 282 million metric tons—accounting for approximately 63 percent of total program reductions, as shown in Figure 1. This represents a 7.7-percent increase over 2003 reported CO2 reductions. This increase primarily can be attributed to increased nuclear power generation, which grew by 3.2 percent in 2004, according to EIA.


On a project-by-project basis, the electric power sector reported nearly 1,500 individual projects that directly or indirectly reduced CO2 emissions. As shown in Figure 2, nuclear power-related projects, including increased generation and capacity improvements (power uprates), accounted for about 142 million metric tons of CO2 reductions or about 54 percent of the electric power sector's total reductions at the project level. Other major CO2-reducing activities reported by the electric power sector include demand-side management (DSM) programs, transmission and distribution system upgrades, natural gas plant expansion projects, landfill gas recovery projects, and carbon sequestration activities.

Piechart 2

Power PartnersSM Reporting under Climate VISION
To measure improvements in GHG emissions intensity, Power PartnersSM selected the level of GHG emissions per unit of electricity generation (tons of CO2-equivalent emissions per kilowatt-hour [kWh] of generation) as their initial metric. This was chosen because it is easily understandable both within and outside the industry and because detailed data on electricity generation and CO2 emissions are publicly available through EIA, as described in the preceding section. Due to the limitations of this metric, however Power PartnersSM adopted an adjusted metric, incorporating several significant modifications in order to reflect actual voluntary activities more fully.

First, Power PartnersSM decided to use a three-year average for the base year and the target year. Therefore, Power PartnersSM will be measuring the performance of its Climate VISION activities as the change between the 2000- 2002 base-period average and the 2010-2012 target-year average. By using a three-year average, large year-to-year fluctuations in weather-related volatility, as well as nuclear plant refueling cycles, are smoothed out. Annual volatility in average weather conditions affects the electric generation intensity in two ways: (1) periods of abnormally high summer temperatures or abnormally low winter temperatures require additional peak load generation, which varies in carbon intensity from baseload generation; and (2) variations in rainfall and snowfall patterns affect levels of emissions-free hydropower generation. Averaging over a three-year period compensates for the volatility caused by these factors. All analyses in this report of improvements in GHG emissions intensity and changes in emissions have been calculated relative to a 2000-2002 base-period average.

Second, the use of CO2-equivalent emissions per kilowatt-hour as a metric fails to capture the impact of several categories of the industry's actions that are not directly reflected in the data on electricity generation and GHG emissions from generation. These actions include: (1) initiatives taken by Power PartnersSM member utilities and power generators jointly with their customers to improve end-use energy efficiency and to reduce demand for electricity; (2) actions taken to improve the energy efficiency of the electricity transmission and distribution systems; and (3) "off-system" actions, i.e., GHG emissions reductions, such as tree-planting programs, that would not otherwise be reflected in any database on electricity generation, transmission, distribution, or consumption.

Neither government agencies nor Power PartnersSM currently collect comprehensive data on these activities. However EIA collects some data on DSM programs, as well as the voluntary reporting of GHG emissions reductions in the 1605(b) reporting program. EPA collects data on sulfur hexafluoride (SF6) emissions as part of its voluntary partnership program. EEI collects data on the industry-wide UtiliTree Carbon Company tree-planting initiative and will be collecting data on the PowerTree Carbon Company. Some of these data were utilized in the analysis of Power PartnersSM actions.

To help fill these data gaps, Power PartnersSM conducted a survey of member utilities, power generators, and TVA in the summer of 2006 to obtain additional information on their actions to reduce, avoid, and sequester GHG emissions. The primary areas identified were company-specific carbon sequestration activities (not part of the industry-wide utility program), reductions in energy losses in transmission and distribution systems, recovery of methane emissions from landfills, utilization of coal combustion products (CCPs), energy-efficiency and DSM programs, and reductions of SF6 emissions. The survey sought to capture data on these activities, on a consistent trend basis, from 2000 to 2005. In addition, the survey offered the opportunity for companies to provide supplemental information describing improvements in generation emissions intensity that reflected data submitted to EIA. The survey results supplemented the data on electricity generation and GHG emissions available from other data sources. Each data source was carefully reviewed to avoid instances of overlap.

Based on the additional data collected for these additional activities (other than generation improvements), Power PartnersSM constructed an adjusted carbon intensity metric. The electricity savings (in kWh) due to reductions in transmission and distribution losses, plus reductions in electricity consumption due to DSM programs, were added to the generation data as an additional source of emissions-free generation. The reductions in GHG emissions due to off-system actions were deducted as an offset to the GHG emissions from generation.

The analysis of the survey data indicates an overall favorable trend in the reduction of GHG emissions intensity, and confirms that Power PartnersSM are capable of reaching our goal of a three- to five-percent reduction in GHG emissions intensity by 2012.

As illustrated in Figure 3 below, the analysis shows that adjusted GHG emissions intensity was approaching a three-percent reduction in 2005, as compared with the 2000-2002 base-period average. The general direction of the GHG emissions intensity is downward, and is consistent with a path that will result in a three- to five-percent reduction in GHG emissions intensity by 2012. The data also reflect significant year-to-year variability due to weather-related effects on electricity generation. Some of the variability also may be due to changes in the mix of fuels used in generation resulting from the significant increase in natural gas and oil prices in recent years.

GHG Emissions Intensity

Click here to view the January 2007 Power PartnersSM Annual Report. (PDF 4 MB)





Page Last Modified:   April 7, 2009