For The Record

State carbon emissions down, renewable sources rising

By: - August 9, 2019 8:00 am

Carbon emissions are down across the southeastern United States, including Georgia, driven by a declining appetite among consumers to use electricity amid a growing demand for more renewable sources like solar power, according to a report by the Southern Alliance for Clean Energy.

However, the decreasing trend in electricity consumption may not translate to power producers like Southern Co., the parent corporation of Georgia Power, meeting emission-reduction targets they’ve set recently, the report says. That forecast comes even as Georgia Power has started transitioning away from heavy carbon-emitting facilities like coal plants.

According to the report, carbon dioxide emissions from Southeast power plants have slowed from 1,120 pounds per megawatt hour of electricity in 2010. The report projects those plants will emit 767 pounds by 2025.

That shift stems largely from swapping from coal to natural gas as plants’ primary production, the report says. The amount of solar being thrown in the mix has also doubled over the last three years.

That swap includes Southern Company, which the report notes has set a goal to halve its carbon emissions by 2030 and to burn off “low-to-no” amounts of carbon by 2050. But the report argues the company is currently on track to cut emissions 42% by 2030, and points out Georgia Power recently told the state regulators that the company did not take the “low-to-no” emissions goal into account when crafting its power-supply plan.

According to figures in the report, Georgia Power slices carbon emissions from about 65.8 short tons in 2010 to nearly 43 tons in 2017. It projects the carbon tally to drop further to about 39.4 short tons in 2025.

“Public facing goals may not have an impact if they are not also adopted internally,” the report says.

Overall, the entire state of Georgia looks to be producing about 64.5 short tons of carbon by 2025, the report forecasts. That would be down from around 94.7 short tons in 2010′

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Beau Evans
Beau Evans

Beau Evans has covered local and state government and breaking news in New Orleans and California. He’s reported on immigration issues, the threat of rising seas to coastal areas, public safety and hurricanes. At The Times-Picayune in New Orleans, Evans detailed the critical role government plays to ensure that people in a community have access to clean water and other public needs. In 2018, his investigative reporting revealed top officials at New Orleans’ cash-poor water utility dealt themselves huge raises, prompting several to resign. Evans’ prior reporting was in West Marin north of San Francisco for The Point Reyes Light. Evans is an Atlanta native who graduated with honors from The Lovett School and is an honors graduate of North Carolina’s Davidson College. Beau was with the Georgia Recorder until January 4th, 2020.