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Missouri poised to meet EPA carbon reduction targets years ahead of schedule

Missouri’s existing clean energy policies, if fully implemented, can put the state on track to meet the carbon pollution reduction targets in the EPA’s new Clean Power Plan nine years ahead of schedule.

If Missouri meets its goals of generating 15% of its electricity from renewable resources like solar and wind by 2021 and offsetting 9.9% of electricity sales with energy efficiency by 2020, Missouri could achieve a carbon intensity reduction in 2021 equivalent to what the EPA is requiring for the state in 2030.

Missouri residents are already on track to save hundreds of millions of dollars on their electricity bills, thanks to utility-sponsored energy efficiency programs like the KCP&L’s recently approved new program for Kansas City-area residents, and the program currently being run by Ameren Missouri in St. Louis and the eastern half of the state. Additional pollution reduction measures could create an additional 3,900 energy efficiency jobs for Missourians while saving households $5.60 per month on electricity. All of this is in addition to the 3,700 solar jobs to be created by the end of 2014, and the jobs created by bringing more wind power to the state.

The Clean Power Plan signals a transition away from a reliance on coal and will move Missouri forward towards a healthier and cleaner future. But Missouri already has a head start on this future with existing state policies such as the Renewable Energy Standard and the Missouri Energy Efficiency Investment Act.

EPA’s Target for Missouri Would Produce Significant Reductions

The EPA took into consideration the carbon pollution reductions Missouri could cost-effectively achieve through four “building blocks”:

1.     improved coal-plant efficiency (getting more electricity out each lump of coal burnt);

2.     making greater use of existing natural gas plants instead of burning coal;

3.     increasing use of low-carbon energy like wind and solar,

4.     ramping up energy efficiency savings from utility programs, such as weatherization and upgraded appliance rebates, that help families, businesses, and industry save energy and the money they spend on it.

Based on this formula of four achievable building blocks, EPA determined that Missouri can achieve a carbon intensity of 1,544 pounds per megawatt-hour of electricity produced in 2030 – a reduction of 21% from 2012 levels.  (Carbon intensity is a measure of the amount of carbon pollution produced per unit of electricity generated.) There’s also a 2020 “interim” target of 1,621 lbs/MWh, to be sure it is on the right track to hit the final goal.

Missouri’s 2012 starting point of 1,963 pounds per megawatt hour (lbs/MWh) is the 7th highest of any state. 25 states already have lower carbon intensities than Missouri is being asked to achieve 16 years from now.

These reductions will have significant environmental benefits. If Missouri’s electricity in 2012 had been as clean as it will be in 2030, the state would have avoided emitting over 15 million metric tons of carbon pollution that year. That’s like eliminating the pollution from over 3 million cars – more than one for every household in the state. It would take nearly 400 million new urban trees to soak up that much carbon pollution.

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