Ohio’s current energy portfolio is heavily reliant on coal-fired power plants. Approximately 84% of our electricity comes from coal; whereas, nuclear power makes up about 11%, natural gas is about 3%, hydropower and other renewable resources equal less than 1% of our energy mix.
Millions of Ohioans are breathing unhealthy air and power plants are the largest source for several toxic air pollutants. Ohio’s electric sector ranked first in toxic air pollution in 2009, emitting more than 44.5 million pounds of harmful chemicals, which accounted for 65% of the state’s air pollution and 12% of toxic pollution from all U.S. power plants. 1
The Muskingum River power plant owned by American Electric Power is the state’s leading polluter, emitting 7.4 million pounds of air pollution in 2009.
Many of the Ohio’s older coal-burning power plants, like the Muskingum River Power plant, have not kept pace with modern pollution control technology. This includes control technology for mercury emissions.
Ohio ranked third among all states in mercury air pollution from power plants with about 3,980 pounds emitted in 2009, which accounted for 76% of the state mercury air pollution and 6% of U.S. electric sector mercury pollution.
Moving away from coal power will reduce the amount of environmental damage caused by this traditional energy source. Case in point is that the emissions reductions already achieved through Ohio’s Energy Efficiency Resource Standard (EERS) and Renewable Portfolio Standard (RPS) as established in 2008 with Ohio Senate Bill 221.
In the first two years of Ohio’s RPS and EERS, significant CO2 savings were realized: 2
- 2009 CO2 savings: .55% reduction or 804,649 MWH = 804,649 tons of CO2 3
- 2010 CO2 savings: 1% reduction or 1,462,998 MWH = 1,462,998 tons of CO2 4
- Total for 2 years: 2,267,647 tons of CO2
1 Toxic Power: How Power Plants Contaminate Our Air and States, Natural Resources Defense Council (NRDC)
2 Figures calculate 1 metric ton of carbon dioxide (CO2) per MWH for Ohio’s electric mix and 146,299,793 MWH of electric sales in Ohio annually.
3 OEC calculation, targets for 2009 were: .25 for RE, .3 for EE.
4 Targets for 2010 were: .5 for RE, .5 for EE