Despite decarbonization goals, updated analysis shows that electric utilities still have a lot of work to do
Atlanta, GA – A newly released report by the Southern Alliance for Clean Energy (SACE), “Tracking Decarbonization in the Southeast,” examines the role electric utilities have played in decarbonizing the power supply over the last decade.
The report examines power sector carbon dioxide (CO2) emissions throughout the Southeast, home to some of the biggest utility systems in the nation: Duke Energy, Southern Company, NextEra, and the Tennessee Valley Authority. Report authors compiled historical data and examined the latest resource plans for major utilities to understand what the power supply will look like in the future, and how much carbon pollution it will emit. SACE analysis accounts for how power is sold between utilities and states. Therefore, this report is unique in that it presents power-related emissions for the utility or state where the power is ultimately consumed, not where it is generated.
“We welcome several of our region’s large electric utilities recent public announcements of carbon reduction goals, but setting a goal is the easy part. Setting the plan into action to meet the goal is when things start to get real,” said Dr. Stephen A. Smith, Executive Director of Southern Alliance for Clean Energy.
“Our annual update to the “Tracking Decarbonization in the Southeast” report cuts through the spin and separates rhetoric from reality by analyzing the utilities’ planning documents. The way to reduce excessive carbon pollution emissions is not just with aspirations, it is with concrete actions. After making good progress over the past 10 years, company planning documents show a slowing down of regional utility emission reductions right at the time science says we need to be speeding up the rate of reductions.”
On Thursday, August 27 at 1 PM ET, report authors Maggie Shober, SACE’s Director of Utility Reform, and Heather Pohnan, SACE Energy Policy Manager, will examine trends presented in the “Tracking Decarbonization in the Southeast: Generation and CO2 Emissions Report.”
The webinar will explore insights from the forthcoming report, including the following topics:
Interplay between the electric power and transportation sectors
Continued investment in gas infrastructure
Opportunities for decarbonization through utility resource planning, local policies, and utility emission goals
“Resource planning remains one of the best opportunities for utilities to put decarbonization goals into practice. However, many utilities use outdated modeling practices and criteria that make new gas the default way to meet demand with supply,” said Maggie Shober, SACE Utility Reform Director. “Another issue is that referring to gas as a ‘bridge fuel’ or ‘natural’ gas minimizes the fact that you are still burning fossil fuels.”
“Utilities are beginning to acknowledge they need to decarbonize, but based on recent resource plans filed with regulators, we can see that utilities are missing multiple opportunities to make good on their goals to do so,” said Heather Pohnan, SACE Energy Policy Manager. “There is still a lot of work to be done so that utility plans match stated goals, but we remain hopeful that we’ll see more utilities decide to join or lead the emerging vision for decarbonization in the Southeast.”
Since 1985, the Southern Alliance for Clean Energy has worked to promote responsible energy choices to ensure clean, safe, and healthy communities throughout the Southeast. Learn more at www.cleanenergy.org.