Facing South

INSTITUTE INDEX: Clinging to dirty energy in the South

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Concentration of carbon dioxide in Earth's atmosphere prior to the dawn of the industrial age 200 years ago, as measured in parts per million: 275

Current atmospheric concentration of carbon dioxide in ppm: 392

Atmospheric carbon dioxide level that scientists say is necessary to avoid catastrophic and irreversible climate impacts, in ppm: 350

Percent of U.S. carbon emissions accounted for by coal-fired electricity: 40

Percent by which the big Southeast Five utilities -- Duke Energy Carolinas, Florida Power & Light, Georgia Power, Progress Energy and South Carolina Electric & Gas --  plan to reduce their coal generation capacity over the next two decades: 16

Percent by which Duke Energy Carolinas plans to reduce its coal generation during that period: 3.6

Size in megawatts of the new coal-fired power unit that Duke Energy is building at its Cliffside plant in western North Carolina, scheduled to begin operating next year: 825

Tons of carbon dioxide that the Cliffside plant will emit to the atmosphere each year: 6,000,000

Amount by which Progress Energy is planning to increase its reliance on natural gas in the coming years: 25

Percent by which greenhouse gas emissions from drilling for natural gas in shale formations actually exceeds such emissions from coal-fired electricity over time: 20

Average percentage of the Southeast Five's generation capacity expected to come from wind and solar over the next couple of decades:  0.25

That figure for Duke Energy, the Southeast Five's leader in planned wind and solar power: 0.77

That figure for Progress Energy Florida, SCE&G and Georgia Power: 0

Average percentage of the Southeast Five's generation capacity expected to come from energy efficiency over the next couple of decades: 1.9

That figure for SCE&G, the Southeast Five's leader in planned efficiency: 5.09

Percent of Georgia Power's and FP&L's total generation capacity expected to come from energy efficiency: 0

Total amount by which the Southeast Five are planning to increase their generation capacity over the next two decades, in megawatts: 23,188

Percent of that capacity increase represented by planned nuclear reactors: 38

Total number of new nuclear reactors those utilities are planning to build: 10

Approximate cost of each new nuclear reactor: $10 billion-$12 billion

Percent by which the five utilities' current business plans are expected to increase customer rates: 50-100

Compared to nuclear energy, percent less that energy efficiency and onshore wind power cost per kilowatt-hour: 1/3

Percent of the world's electricity needs that could be met with renewable energy by 2050, according to a recent United Nations report: 80

(Click on figure to go to source. Most are drawn from a new report titled "New Nuclear Power Is Ruining Climate Protection Efforts and Harming Customers" by NC WARN, a North Carolina-based climate watchdog group. Graph by Robert A. Rohde from NOAA data via Wikipedia.)

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