Ranked: Emissions per Capita of the Top 30 U.S. Investor-Owned Utilities

The following content is sponsored by the National Public Utilities Council

Ranked: Emissions per Capita of the Top 30 U.S. Investor-Owned Utilities

Emissions per Capita of the Top 30 U.S. Investor-Owned Utilities

Approximately 25% of all U.S. greenhouse gas emissions (GHG) come from electricity generation.

Subsequently, this means investor-owned utilities (IOUs) will have a crucial role to play around carbon reduction initiatives. This is particularly true for the top 30 IOUs, where almost 75% of utility customers get their electricity from.

This infographic from the National Public Utilities Council ranks the largest IOUs by emissions per capita. By accounting for the varying customer bases they serve, we get a more accurate look at their green energy practices. Here’s how they line up.

Per Capita Rankings

The emissions per capita rankings for the top 30 investor-owned utilities have large disparities from one another.

Totals range from a high of 25.8 tons of CO2 per customer annually to a low of 0.5 tons.

Utility Emissions Per Capita (CO2 tons per year) Total Emissions (M)
TransAlta 25.8 16.3
Vistra 22.4 97.0
OGE Energy 21.5 18.2
AES Corporation 19.8 49.9
Southern Company 18.0 77.8
Evergy 14.6 23.6
Alliant Energy 14.4 14.1
DTE Energy 14.2 29.0
Berkshire Hathaway Energy 14.0 57.2
Entergy 13.8 40.5
WEC Energy 13.5 22.2
Ameren 12.8 31.6
Duke Energy 12.0 96.6
Xcel Energy 11.9 43.3
Dominion Energy 11.0 37.8
Emera 11.0 16.6
PNM Resources 10.5 5.6
PPL Corporation 10.4 28.7
American Electric Power 9.2 50.9
Consumers Energy 8.7 16.1
NRG Energy 8.2 29.8
Florida Power and Light 8.0 41.0
Portland General Electric 7.6 6.9
Fortis Inc. 6.1 12.6
Avangrid 5.1 11.6
PSEG 3.9 9.0
Exelon 3.8 34.0
Consolidated Edison 1.6 6.3
Pacific Gas and Electric 0.5 2.6
Next Era Energy Resources 0 1.1

PNM Resources data is from 2019, all other data is as of 2020

Let’s start by looking at the higher scoring IOUs.

TransAlta

TransAlta emits 25.8 tons of CO2 emissions per customer, the largest of any utility on a per capita basis. Altogether, the company’s 630,000 customers emit 16.3 million metric tons. On a recent earnings call, its management discussed clear intent to phase out coal and grow their renewables mix by doubling their renewables fleet. And so far it appears they’ve been making good on their promise, having shut down the Canadian Highvale coal mine recently.

Vistra

Vistra had the highest total emissions at 97 million tons of CO2 per year and is almost exclusively a coal and gas generator. However, the company announced plans for 60% reductions in CO2 emissions by 2030 and is striving to be carbon neutral by 2050. As the highest total emitter, this transition would make a noticeable impact on total utility emissions if successful.

Currently, based on their 4.3 million customers, Vistra sees per capita emissions of 22.4 tons a year. The utility is a key electricity provider for Texas, ad here’s how their electricity mix compares to that of the state as a whole:

Energy Source Vistra State of Texas
Gas 63% 52%
Coal 29% 15%
Nuclear 6% 9%
Renewables 1% 24%
Oil 1% 0%

Despite their ambitious green energy pledges, for now only 1% of Vistra’s electricity comes from renewables compared to 24% for Texas, where wind energy is prospering.

Based on those scores, the average customer from some of the highest emitting utility groups emit about the same as a customer from each of the bottom seven, who clearly have greener energy practices. Let’s take a closer look at emissions for some of the bottom scoring entities.

Utilities With The Greenest Energy Practices

Groups with the lowest carbon emission scores are in many ways leaders on the path towards a greener future.

Exelon

Exelon emits only 3.8 tons of CO2 emissions per capita annually and is one of the top clean power generators across the Americas. In the last decade they’ve reduced their GHG emissions by 18 million metric tons, and have recently teamed up with the state of Illinois through the Clean Energy Jobs Act. Through this, Exelon will receive $700 million in subsidies as it phases out coal and gas plants to meet 2030 and 2045 targets.

Consolidated Edison

Consolidated Edison serves nearly 4 million customers with a large chunk coming from New York state. Altogether, they emit 1.6 tons of CO2 emissions per capita from their electricity generation.

The utility group is making notable strides towards a sustainable future by expanding its renewable projects and testing higher capacity limits. In addition, they are often praised for their financial management and carry the title of dividend aristocrat, having increased their dividend for 47 years and counting. In fact, this is the longest out of any utility company in the S&P 500.

A Sustainable Tomorrow

Altogether, utilities will have a pivotal role to play in decarbonization efforts. This is particularly true for the top 30 U.S. IOUs, who collectively serve 60 million Americans, or one-fifth of the U.S. population.

Ultimately, this means a unique moment for utilities is emerging. As the transition toward cleaner energy continues and various groups push to achieve their goals, all eyes will be on utilities to deliver.

The National Public Utilities Council is the go-to resource to learn how utilities can lead in the path towards decarbonization.

The post Ranked: Emissions per Capita of the Top 30 U.S. Investor-Owned Utilities appeared first on Visual Capitalist.

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