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Read 2015 Benchmarking report

The 2010 Benchmarking Air Emissions report (pdf, 9 MB) compares air pollutant emissions of the 100 largest U.S. electric power producers for 2008, and discusses market trends affecting the electric generating sector, including trends in fuel prices, technology developments, and environmental regulations. The information presented here was compiled and analyzed in collaboration by NRDC; Public Service Enterprise Group Incorporated (PSEG), a New Jersey-based electric utility; Constellation Energy, a Maryland-based energy utility; Entergy, a Louisiana-based energy utility; and CERES, a national coalition of environmental and investor groups.

Key Findings

Key findings of the Benchmarking project's 2010 report include:

  • Emissions of sulfur dioxide and nitrogen oxides have decreased by 52 percent and 54 percent, respectively, since the stricter pollution-control standards of the 1990 Clean Air Act went into effect.
  • According to EPA's Greenhouse Gas Inventory, in 2008, power plant carbon dioxide emissions were 30 percent higher than they were in 1990. However, carbon dioxide emissions from electric power generation declined by 2.1 percent from 2007 levels due in part to reduced electricity sales resulting from a weakened economy and increased renewable generation.
  • In 2008, power plants were responsible for 66 percent of sulfur dioxide emissions, 19 percent of nitrogen oxides emissions, 72 percent of mercury air emissions, and 39 percent of carbon dioxide emissions in the United States.
  • The electric industry accounts for more carbon dioxide emissions than any other sector, including the transportation and industrial sectors.
  • Air pollution emissions from power plants are highly concentrated among a small number of producers. For example, a quarter of the electric power industry's sulfur dioxide and carbon dioxide emissions are emitted by just two and five top 100 producers, respectively.

For more, see press release.

The Benchmarking project uses public data to compare the emissions performance of the 100 largest power producers in the United States, which account for 85 percent of reported electricity generation and 89 percent of the industry's reported emissions. Emissions performance is examined with respect to four power plant pollutants: sulfur dioxide, nitrogen oxides, mercury and carbon dioxide. These pollutants cause or contribute to global warming and to environmental and health problems including acid rain, smog, particulate pollution and mercury deposition.

report cover

Table of Contents

  • Acknowledgements
  • Preface
  • Executive Summary
  • Electric Industry Overview
  • The Structure of the U.S. Electric Power Industry
  • Emissions of the 100 Largest Electric Power Producers
  • Use of the Benchmarking Data
  • Appendices
  • Endnotes

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