Greenhouse Gas Decreasing in Ohio – II

Revised – 2 May 2018

My previous blog posting was based on a report that carbon dioxide (CO2) produced by electric plants in Ohio was reduced by 38 percent between 2005 and 2015 (1). To bring the data up to date, I shifted the time frame to 2008-2017 (a) and showed that Ohio’s production and consumption were about the same in 2008. Since then production has fallen faster than consumption and Ohio has become a net importer of electricity. It is not surprising that CO2 production has fallen in view of our heavy dependence on fossil fuels.

The decrease in electricity generation starts with coal. Plant retirement in the past nine years has reduced coal capacity by about thirty percent (2) and the remaining plants are running only about half time (2,3). As sown below, the shortfall has been replaced by natural gas, imports from other states, and a decrease in demand (4).

Since 2008 CO2emissions in Ohio have decreased by about 49 million metric tons, or about 39 percent (b)(5). This decrease has the following components in million metric tons (mmt):

Coal = -59 mmt

Natural Gas = +10 mmt

it is also possible to see what has replaced the 48 mmt emissions due to coal.

  1. Since natural gas only produces 40% of the CO2 as coal, the 10 mmt from natural gas are replacing 25 mmt from coal, for an net reduction of 15 mmt.
  2. Decreased demand saves 8 mmt of CO2 (c)
  3. Using imports save the balance, 25 mmt of CO2

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 (4).


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

(b) Actual 2015 CO2 data have been extrapolated to provide 2017 estimates.

(c) Regression analysis of data from Ref. (4) shows that Ohioans are reducing usage by about 0.9 million kWh per year or a total of about 8 million kWh over the nine year period. Comparison of Refs. (4) and (5) shows that coal produces one metric ton of CO2 for each kWh of electricity generated while natural gas produces about 0.4 metric tons..


(1) EDF This Midwestern state is the surprising standout on cutting carbon pollution, Jan 4,2018,

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

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

(4) EIA, Electricity Data Browser,

(5) EIA, State Carbon Dioxide Emissions Data


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.


Decrease in Ohio Shale jobs

Shale jobs have been decreasing for several years. According to the latest data, there were only about half as many core jobs, such as drilling and pipeline construction, as there were three years earlier (1). At under 10,000, job creation is a small fraction of the Chamber of Commerce prediction of 60,000 (2)

Only part of the difference between prediction and reality can be attributed to auxiliary jobs, such as truck driving. Since Jobs and Family Services (1) only has the total number of truck drivers, they assign those drivers to shale jobs, even the unknown number working for FedEX and other companies. Therefore the tens of thousands reported auxiliary jobs (1) are likely to be greatly exaggerated.


(1) Ohio Department of Jobs and Family Services, Ohio Shale Quarterly Reports,, accessed 21 April 2017.

(2) Ohio Chamber of Commerce Educational Foundation; Economic Potential for Shale Formations in Ohio, n. d.

Ohio Gas Facts

My periodic reminder that Ohio is a small player in natural gas production. As of July, 2015 we are ninth among the states, producing about three percent of the national total. Our oil production is less than one percent of the national total. This is not to deny that our progress has been impressive. 2014 saw our previous natural gas record from 1984 broken spectacularly by a factor of 2.6. To follow production go to:

We still import about half of the natural gas that we use. For consumption history go to: Coal is similar; we produce a little more than half of what we consume. See:

Ohioans are Saving Energy – Barely

Over the past decade, residential energy use in Ohio has gone down – not by much, but the trend is there. For the three major sources:

Energy Source           Residential Usage, 2005                Average Rate of Decline

Natural Gas                 323 billion cubic ft.                          1.4 percent per year

Gasoline                      5.12 billion gallons                          0.8 percent per year

Electricity                    54 billion kWh                                  0.2 percent per year

The current trend for natural gas is the extension of a long-term trend. The annual decrease of well over one percent has been going at least since 1968. The average Ohioan used about 65,000 cubic feet in 2013. (

Gasoline Usage reached its all-time high in 1978 and is virtually unchanged  over the past 20 years. A car getting 25 miles per gallon and travelling 12,000 miles per year uses almost 500 gallons of gasoline annually

Electricity usage climbed steadily from 1990 onward, but has plateaued since 20005. The average Ohioan uses about 900 kWh per month.  See U.S. Energy Information Administration, Form EIA-861, “Annual Electric Power Industry Report.”

War on Coal

There is no doubt that the coal industry has problems. Prices are lower than they were a few years ago. At the same time less coal is being used for generating electricity. The over-dramatic term ‘War on Coal’ has been used to describe this situation. If there is a war, there is an enemy – and coal’s enemy is natural gas.  In Ohio, about 85% of coal’s loss of tonnage supplied to power plants is due to natural gas. Renewables provide less two percent of Ohio’s electricity and they hardly consist of a threat.


COAL PRICE: After rising to a high above $80 per ton in 2011, coal prices have mostly been between $50 and $60 for the past two years (

ELECTRICITY GENERATION BY COAL: NATIONAL – Use of coal by electric power plants has decreased by almost 20% over the past ten years (LLL, Estimated U.S. Energy Use, issued annually). OHIO – the percentage loss is almost as great over the past five years (EIA, Electric Power Monthly, February issue each year).