The U.S. Energy Information Administration (EIA) released state electric power sector CO2 emissions data on Mar. 4 exposing Texas facilities as the largest emitters of CO2 gases in the country—more than twice the total of Pennsylvania, which ranked second.

The most recent data was from 2012 and showed that electric power plants in Texas released more than 222 million metric tons (MMT) of CO2 that year. To make matters worse, the state’s industrial sector exceeded its power sector by about 3 MMT, firmly placing Texas at the top of the country’s CO2 emissions list.

However, the power sector accounts for much larger percentages of the total CO2 emissions in other states. For example, West Virginia’s electric power plants produced more than 73% of the CO2 emissions released in that state, whereas the percentage from electric plants was less than 34% in Texas. In addition to electric power and industrial, the other sectors included in the EIA data are transportation, commercial, and residential.

The data also offered an interesting view of progress being made to reduce CO2 emissions in each state. Several states in the Northeast have shown remarkable reductions in CO2 emissions. The District of Columbia, Maine, Delaware, New York, and Massachusetts have all cut their three-year rolling average CO2 emissions by more than 20% over the past 10 years.

California (down about 42 MMT) and New York (down about 36 MMT) lead the nation in the greatest reduction to their three-year rolling average CO2 emissions during the last five years. Only six states—Nebraska, Arkansas, Iowa, North Dakota, South Dakota, and Wyoming—have seen their averages increase over the last five years, but the CO2 emissions from all of them combined was still only about half that of Texas.

The EIA provides a handy formula for calculating the CO2 produced per kWh for specific fuels and types of generators. To perform the calculation, multiply the heat rate of the generator (in BTU/kWh generated) by the CO2 emissions factor for the fuel (in lb. of CO2 per MMBtu) and divide the result by 1,000,000. The table below offers some common results.



Table 1. Source: U.S. Energy Information Administration

Aaron Larson, associate editor (@AaronL_Power, @POWERmagazine)