Greenhouse Gas Decreasing in Ohio – II

(My previous blog posting suggested that increased imports of electricity may have been the major contributor to Ohio’s steep drop in greenhouse gas emissions. The calculation below shows that the picture is more complex and reduction in generation of greenhouse gasses by coal plants turns out to be the largest contributor.)

Electric generation by coal plants has decreased sharply in Ohio. Plant retirement in the past nine years (a) has reduced capacity by about thirty percent (1). The remaining plants are running only about half time (1,2). The shortfall has been replaced by natural gas, imports from other states, and a decrease in demand (3).

Since 2008 CO2 emissions have decreased by about 49 million metric tons, or about 29 percent (b)(4).

This decrease has the following components in million metric tons (mmt):

Coal = -57 mmt

Natural Gas = +8 mmt

The overall 49 mmt decrease has two parts:

Decreased demand = 9 mmt

Emissions avoided by importing electricity = 40 mmt

The biggest driver in greenhouse gas reduction is less use of coal. Ohio’s situation is improved considerably by importing electricity from out of state, which is approaching 20 percent of demand (3).


(a) Dating from passage of electric deregulation in 2008 (127-SB221)

(b) Actual 2015 data have been extended to 2017 estimates.


(1) EIA, Electric Power Industry Capability by Primary Energy Source, 1990 through 2016,

(2) EIA, Electric Power Monthly, Jan. 2017,

(3) EIA, Electricity Data Browser,

(4) EIA, State Carbon Dioxide Emissions Data,


Subsidizing Old Technology

Both state and federal governments are planning to subsidize old coal and nuclear plants. These subsidies will cost you and me money. The Ohio plans are the further advanced. Our legislature is currently considering adding $30 per year to our bills in Central and Southern Ohio in order to allow two 60-year-old coal plants (one in Indiana) to keep running. People in Northern Ohio would pay the same $30 to keep their two old nuclear plants running.

Meanwhile, in Washington, an obscure government office, known as FERC, is trying to use unsound science to justify subsidies for all coal and nuclear plants in the country. If they succeed, all of us will be paying more for electricity, up to $50 more per year according to a Bank of America analysis.*

We are living in the twenty-first century. Why must wee support these relics of the twentieth?

  • In Jan. 2018  FERC denied the subsidy for coal and nuclear.

Ohio Wind Capacity

Wind Farms


Name County MW Ref.

Operational, 504 MW

Blue Creek Paulding,

Van Wert

304 (1)
Timber Rd. I Paulding 38 (1)
Timber Rd. II Paulding 99 (1)
Timber Rd. III Paulding 63 (1)

Under Construction, 466 MW

Hardin Hardin 300 (1)
Hog Creek Hardin 66 (1)
Northwest Ohio Paulding 100 (1)

Approved, 766 MW

Black Fork Crawford,


200 (1)
Buckeye I Champaign 135 (1)
Buckeye II Champaign 140 (1)
Greenwich Huron 60 (1)
Scioto Ridge Hardin 231 (1)

Planned, 670-680 MW

Exelon Seneca 200 (2)
Ice Breaker Cuyahoga 20-30 (3)
Long Prairie Van Wert 450 (4)


AEP and DPl have also announced plans for up to 800 MW of wind (5-7).  Small wind installations add 43 MW (8)



(1) D. Gearino, ‘Different spins’, Columbus Dispatch, Sept. 24, 2017

(2) “Exelon to build its first commercial wind farm in Ohio”, Platts, 21 June 2016

(3) LEEDCo Vision and Timing, accessed 2 October 2017

(4) “Commissioners meet with wind farm representatives”, Times Bulletin, 3 Feb 2016

(5)”AEP renewable-power proposal ambitious, costly”, Columbus Dispatch, 16 Dec. 2015

(6) “AEP wants to hear from wind developers interested in big Ohio projects”, Columbus Business Journal, May 13, 2016

(7) “DP&L agrees to invest in clean energy; signaling agreement to retire Stuart and Killen coal plants”, Sierra Club Press Release, 30 January 2017

(8) “Small wind turbines in Ohio are the next big thing, says Department of Energy”, August 11, 2017

Setback Comparisons

Letter that the Dispatch did not publish:

In a letter to the Dispatch (10 Aug., 2017) Jeremy Kitson complained about possible legislation to reduce the distance separating wind farms from residences. Mr. Kitson also noted that the State has complete say in specifying wind-farm locations. Although it is not clear what distance (known as setback) will be in the proposed legislation, 1300 feet appears to be a likely guess, based on news reports.

Setbacks for oil and gas wells are much smaller. Ohio law (Section 1509.021) includes setbacks of 100 feet from rural homes and 50 feet from water supplies for oil and gas wells. As it is for wind, locations of oil and gas wells are determined by the State; local governments have no say.

Neighbors of oil and gas wells have bigger problems that neighbors of wind farms.


Alternative Motor Vehicles

Transportation is the second largest source of greenhouse gasses (1).


Technology Cars Other

Vehicles, (a)

Ethanol/Flex Fuel 3.67 16.12 19.79
Electric/Gasoline Hybrid 3.43 0.44 3.87
Other Technologies (b) 0.81 0.32 1.13
Total Alternatives 7.90 16.88 24.79
Total Vehicles 120.5 121.4 241.9
% Alternative 7% 14% 10%

Notes in Table

(a) Vans, SUV, etc.

(b) Natural gas, all-electric, etc.





(1) EPA “Sources of Greenhouse Gas Emissions”, accessed 27 June 2017

Renewables Catching Up With Nuclear

Nuclear activists point out that reactors do not generate greenhouse gasses and that decommissioning them leads to electricity being generated by fossil fuels (some nuclear opponents claim that reactor technology is polluting; I looked into this several years ago and was not impressed by the quality of the research).

Renewable-energy supporters claim that sufficient wind energy is being installed each year to offset the loss of reactors (averaging about one decommissioning per year [1]).  Surprisingly output from reactors has remained steady. Improved efficiency must be the reason, since there have not been any new reactors for many years [2].

Generation by renewables have strongly increased from about half of nuclear in 2008 to about two thirds today. Since hydropower has remained steady, the increase is due to wind.

So far so good. Since nuclear production has been steady, wind has helped to take up the slack due to coal plant retirement.


[1] EIA, Today in Energy, June 13, 2017

[2] Data in the figure from EIA, Electricity Data Browse,  accessed July 1, 2017