PJM Interconnection — America’s Top Carbon Polluter?

Responsible companies concerned about climate change have disclosed their carbon footprints and pledged to make them smaller. Many have joined organized efforts like the Chicago Climate Exchange, the Carbon Disclosure Project and EPA’s Climate Leaders.

The list of corporations joining the effort even includes big carbon polluters like American Electric Power.

Where’s PJM Interconnection? Why don’t they disclose the carbon dioxide emissions associated with the electricty they sell through the wholesale markets they manage in 13 states and District of Columbia?

The answer may be that PJM’s carbon footprint could, in fact, be the largest of any power company in the United States!

According to the 2008 State of the Market Report for PJM, energy produced by fuel source was as follows (GWh):

Coal 404,719
Gas 53,552
Oil 1,918

To keep things simple, use the following factors to convert GWh into metric tons of carbon dioxide: 1000, 600, and 800. That is, one GWh of electricity produced by burning coal results in 1,000 metric tons of carbon dioxide emissions, natural gas — 600 tons and oil is in between at 800. (These numbers are rough and approximate — greater precision would require the use of proprietary data about precise types of fuel used and methods of combustion — which PJM has yet to disclose.)

The result?  438 million tons of carbon dioxide.

That carbon footprint dwarfs even American Electric Power, one of the nation’s largest, coal-fired generators, who reported a baseline carbon footprint of 150 million tons under EPA’s Climate Leaders program.  It’s bigger even than the Tennessee Valley Authority — TVA claims their emissions are under 110 million tons annually.  

AEP is part of PJM Interconnection and could easily provide advice to PJM management and other members on how to gather and report data on greenhouse gas emissions.  FERC (the Fossil Energy Regulatory Commission) could require Regional Transmission Organizations like PJM to disclose the carbon emissions caused by the electricity they sell.  States like Maryland, whose residents are threatened by the consequences of climate instability made worse by carbon pollution, could decide whether it really makes sense to purchase dirty electricity from PJM Interconnection.  

So, the nomination stands: PJM Interconnection is America’s Number One carbon polluter!

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2 responses to “PJM Interconnection — America’s Top Carbon Polluter?

  1. Pingback: Maryland Needs A Better Definition of Reliability « Maryland Energy Report

  2. Pingback: Economist Challenges PJM’s Distorted Planning Process « Maryland Energy Report

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