The Obama administration’s climate plan seeks to cut nationwide carbon emissions from the power sector 17 percent by 2030, but it sets widely different targets for the states. The proposed rule offers four options for reaching the goals and describes how much a state might rely on each method.
But just how much states will actually have to change their current power sources within these four different options has been difficult to gauge. To make things easier to understand, Morning Consult prepared an interactive map that demonstrates how big of a change each option would require if states followed the EPA’s guidance exactly. To see the impact of each, select an option in the drop-down menu at the top.
Note: The EPA did not set targets for the District of Columbia or Vermont.
It’s still unclear how much work each state would have to do to reach its individual requirement. While the EPA isn’t telling states specifically what to do, it does give some examples.
The EPA offers four options states can pursue to reduce carbon discharges into the air: improving the efficiency of existing fossil fuel power plants, switching from coal power plants to natural gas facilities, increasing electricity production from renewable and nuclear energy and reducing energy demand. The states must figure out how much to rely on each method, and the proposed rule gives suggestions of how to divide up those efforts.
Washington, which has to make the highest reduction (72 percent), would achieve 37.6 percent of that change by switching to low-emitting plants, 19.3 percent from increasing renewable energy generation, 11 percent from reducing electricity demand and 3.7 percent from increasing plant efficiency, according to the Center for Climate and Energy Solutions.
Under the EPA’s example, that would mean eliminating all Washington’s coal power. The state already had plans to shutter its last plant by 2025. It would also mean decreasing emissions 3.7 percent through plant efficiency measures, increasing Washington’s share of renewable energy 114 percent and increasing its energy savings 169 percent.
The EPA made recommendations for how much states should switch from coal-fired power plants to lower emitting facilities, mainly natural gas plants. Some states, like Washington, would see a 100 percent decrease, eliminating all coal production. Texas would see a 52 percent decrease in megawatt-hours of power from coal.
POWER PLANT EFFICIENCY
The plan proposes an overall 6 percent “heat rate” or efficiency improvement in the coal plant fleet. Efficiency is measured in average pounds of carbon dioxide per net megawatt-hour from all the affected plants.
The biggest decrease in emissions based on the efficiency improvements would be 6 percent in Kentucky, Nebraska, North Dakota, South Dakota, West Virginia and Wyoming. The smallest would be 0 percent in Idaho, Maine and Rhode Island.
RENEWABLE AND NUCLEAR ENERGY
States could also ramp up the percentage of electricity they get from renewable energy sources like wind and solar, as well as from nuclear power.
Under EPA suggestions, Ohio would have to increase the share of renewable energy in its portfolio 1000 percent from 2012 to 2030. Maine would see only an 11 percent change. Some states—Minnesota, South Dakota and Iowa—see declines in the portion of energy they get from renewables.
The final option is for states to push end-use energy efficiency measures that would reduce emissions by limiting consumers’ demands for electricity.
EPA would like to see a nationwide average of energy savings of 10.7 percent by 2030.
That would be much easier for states like Arizona, which is asked to increase efficiency 119 percent in the period from 2020 to 2029 (from 5.2 percent to 11.4 percent). But Delaware would need to increase end-use efficiency 764 percent in that time span, going from 1.1 percent to 9.5 percent.
For a broader take on the overall emissions reduction targets for states, The Center for Climate and Energy Solutions also has an interactive map. It shows the emissions reduction percentage required of each state, which ranges from 11 percent for North Dakota to 72 percent for Washington.
The map also shows how much of that percentage the EPA suggests should come from each of the four options when you click on a specific state.