METHODS FOR DETERMINING THE CO2eq OF THE VERMONT ELECTRICITY SECTOR

The US Environmental Protection Agency, US-EPA, the Vermont Department of Environmental Conservation, VT-DEC, and the Independent System Operator of New England, ISO-NE, calculate the CO2eq of Vermont’s electricity sector. They use different methods and obtain results that are significantly different from each other.

 

In this article I propose another method, which allocates the NE grid CO2eq to each state, based on the percent load each state imposes on the NE grid, regardless of where any generation systems are located. See Method 1.

 

- ISO-NE includes the CO2eq of wood burning in its total NE grid CO2eq. See Method 1

- ISO-NE calculates the CO2eq of each state, based on the CO2eq/kW of each state and generation in each state, including the CO2eq of wood burning. See Method 2.

- Vermont has its own method of calculating CO2eq, which excludes the CO2eq of wood burning by McNeil/Ryegate. See Method 3.

- US-EPA calculates the CO2eq of each state, based on generation in each state, which for Vermont is McNeil/Ryegate.

- Adding Methods 3 and 4 gives a more realistic Vermont CO2eq. It closely resembles the more accurate results of ISO-NE. See first URL, table 1.

 

http://www.windtaskforce.org/profiles/blogs/vermont-far-from-meetin...

http://www.windtaskforce.org/profiles/blogs/is-wood-burning-carbon-...

http://www.windtaskforce.org/profiles/blogs/is-burning-wood-co-2-ne...

 

The results of the methods are summarized in the below table.

Method

Basis

Data Year

Metric ton

Method 1

VT % load on NE grid; NE grid CO2, per ISO-NE

2015

1,757,134

Method 2

VT % load on NE grid; VT generation CO2eq/kWh, per ISO-NE

2015

581,053

Method 3

VT consumption and purchased, per VT-DEC/VT-DPS

2015

1,000,000

Method 4

VT generation by McNeal/Ryegate, per EPA

2015

657,733

Method 5

Method 3 + Method 4

 

1,657,733

Below is a Description of the Methods.

Method 1 (proposed)

Allocating NE Grid CO2eq Based on Electricity Drawn From the Grid: The proposed method allocates the NE grid CO2eq to each state, based on the percent load each state imposes on the NE grid, regardless of where any generation systems are located. 

 

Only ISO-NE knows the NE and state load, because it monitors it on a second by second basis

Only ISO-NE knows the output status of each generator connected to the grid.

Only ISO-NE has the heat rate curve and fuel for each generator to calculate Btu input and CO2eq, in real-time.

Only ISO-NE can sum all generators, including peaking; synchronous spinning units*; and balancing units. 

* Operating in hot mode, at 3600 rpm, providing no electricity to the grid, until called on by ISO-NE.

 

By summing the CO2eq of all generators, including peaking units and synchronous spinning units, the total NE grid CO2eq and CO2eq intensity, lb. CO2eq/kWh, is determined for each year and published in reports. The CO2eq is allocated to each state, based on the percent load on the NE grid.  See Appendix.

The proposed method:

- Is entirely based on a state’s consumption; Not on buying decisions by utilities; not on RECs sold or not; not on a varying, dirty “Residual Mix”, etc.

- Ignores generation within a state, because, electromagnetic waves travel at near the speed of light. There is no fictitious, arbitrarily, politically determined “VT mix” or “NH mix”, etc. There is only the "NE mix", per basic physics. See Appendix 1.

- Is used by grid operators in France, Germany, the UK, Ireland, California, Spain, etc.

NOTE: In 2017, per ISO-NE website, electricity via tie lines was: Quebec 14,401 GWh; New Brunswick 4,306; New York 1,536. ISO-NE, when calculating the total CO2eq for the NE grid, likely would have included the CO2eq via tie lines. In any case, that quantity of CO2eq cannot be much as a percent of total NE grid CO2eq, as Quebec electricity is about 98% hydro. Hence the accuracy of the proposed method remains nearly unchanged.

2015 ISO-NE Data

NE grid supply; URL no. 1

126,955,000 MWh

NE grid generation; URL No. 1

107,916,000 MWh

NE grid CO2eq intensity; URL No. 2, Page 32

747 lb/MWh

NE grid CO2eq; URL No. 2, Page 31

36,570,000 metric ton

Vermont % of grid load; VT-DPS

100 x 6,100,000/126,955,000 = 4.8

VT CO2eq emission

0.048 x 36,570,000 = 1,757,134 metric ton

1)   http://www.iso-ne.com/about/key-stats/resource-mix

2)   https://www.iso-ne.com/static-assets/documents/2018/01/2016_em...

 

Method 2

 

ISO-NE Allocation of NE Grid CO2 to Vermont: ISO-NE calculates Vermont’s share of NE grid CO2 at 210 lb/MWh, based on in-state generation with CO2eq, mostly McNeal and Ryegate.

 

Vermont = 6,100,000 MWh x 210 lb/MWh = 640,500 US ton/y, or 581,053 Mt/y. See below table 5.1 of URL.

http://www.iso-ne.com/static-assets/documents/2016/01/2014_emission...

 

Table 5‐1
2014 New England System
Annual Average NOX, SO2, and CO2 Emission Rates (lb/MWh)

 

State

NOx

SO2

CO2

Connecticut

0.29

0.11

592

Maine

0.43

0.28

838

Massachusetts

0.54

0.35

932

New Hampshire

0.40

0.29

665

Rhode Island

0.19

0.01

945

Vermont

0.10

0.01

210

New England

0.38

0.22

726

Method 3

VT-DEC Method: Per VT-DEC Report: “Greenhouse gas emissions from the electricity sector in Vermont (Figure 8) are calculated based on electricity consumption data and electric utility purchase decisions (supplied by VT DPS). By using this accounting methodology, the emissions from the generation of all the electricity used in Vermont are accounted for, instead of just the electricity that is generated within the state.” See URL, page 10.

http://dec.vermont.gov/sites/dec/files/aqc/climate-change/documents...

 

VT-DEC uses its own method based on generation within the state (data obtained from VT-DPS) and utility purchases of instate and out-of-state electricity (data obtained from VT utilities and VT-DPS). The total CO2eq is also affected by:

 

1) Renewable energy credits, sold or not sold

2) The varying Residual Mix (mostly electricity purchased on the NE wholesale market).

Vermont utilities generate instate electricity and buy instate RE and out-of state nuclear and renewable electricity, including hydro from Hydro-Quebec, plus a buy a varying quantity of “Residual Mix” (wholesale purchases, which have an ISO-NE determined lb CO2eq/MWh).

If RECs of the RE (mostly wind and solar) are sold out of state, that RE losses its CO2eq attributes and must be added to the “dirty Residual Mix”.

The VT-DEC method yields mostly an artificial "paper" CO2eq. It has nothing to do with physical reality. The result is a lower CO2eq than calculated by ISO-NE, because Vermont excludes the CO2eq from wood burning, but ISO-NE includes the CO2eq from wood burning.

The VT-DEC method is contrived, political, not based on physics.

Method 4

 

McNeal and Ryegate report their outputs and fuel type and consumption to the US-EPA, which calculated the CO2eq of McNeil at 473,100 US ton in 2015, and of Ryegate at 251,925 US ton in 2015, for a total of 725,025 US ton, or 657,733 Mt.

 

http://www.maforests.org/McNeil Emissions 2015.pdf

http://www.maforests.org/RYEGATE TECHNICAL.pdf

 

APPENDIX 1

Energy on the Grid: Once electricity is fed into an electric grid, it travels as electromagnetic waves, at somewhat less than the speed of light, on un-insulated wires, i.e. from northern Maine to southern Florida, about 1800 miles in 0.01 of a second, per Physics 101. On insulated wires, the speed, on average, is about 2/3 the speed of light. The electrons vibrate at 60 cycles per second, 60 Hz, and travel at less than 0.1 inch/second. It is unfortunate most high school teachers told their students electrons were traveling and likely never told them about EM waves, or did not know it themselves.

http://www.djtelectricaltraining.co.uk/downloads/50Hz-Frequency.pdf

 

This article explains in detail what happens when electricity is fed to the grid.

http://www.windtaskforce.org/profiles/blogs/popular-misconceptions-...

APPENDIX 2

Closing Vermont Yankee Increased New England CO2 Emissions: The closing of Vermont Yankee increased NE grid CO2 emissions from 28 million ton in 2014 to 30.2 million ton in 2015. See URL. The NE System CO2 intensity was 730 in 2013, 726 lb/MWh in 2014 and 747 lb/MWh in 2015, based on primary energy, about 8% higher, based on source energy. See table 1.1 in URL.

 

https://www.iso-ne.com/static-assets/documents/2017/01/2015_emissio...

http://www.iso-ne.com/static-assets/documents/2016/01/2014_emission...

NOTE: Vermont utilities draw almost all their electricity from the NE grid. Vermont utilities sign contracts with various electricity suppliers under power purchase agreements, PPAs, which allow them to LEGALLY draw from the NE grid; otherwise they would be stealing. The PPAs have NOTHING to do with the CONSUMED electricity, per College Physics 101.

APPENDIX 3

CO2eq Emissions From Various Electricity Generating Plants: A comparison of CO2eq emissions/kWh for various generating plants is shown in the table. Hydro is the gold standard for renewable energy.

 

PV solar panels require much energy to extract and refine the materials and to manufacture the panels, all of which produces CO2eq, especially in China, which mostly has inefficient, highly polluting, coal-fired generating plants. China has at least 50% of the world’s solar panel market.

 

The CO2eq from a new hydro reservoir rapidly decreases by a factor of 5 during the first 4 years of operation and then remains steady for the at least 100-y life of the reservoir, as measured at various hydro reservoirs in Quebec. See first URL.

 

http://www.hydroquebec.com/data/developpement-durable/pdf/ghg-emiss...

https://www.volker-quaschning.de/datserv/CO2-spez/index_e.php

http://www.hydroquebec.com/data/international/pdf/2015-11-19_briefi...

http://www.hydroquebec.com/sustainable-development/energy-environme...

http://www.cleanairalliance.org/wp-content/uploads/2015/05/quebec-d...

http://www.hydroquebec.com/generation/pdf/carte-grands-equipements.pdf

 

Plant type

Generation

CO2eq

Times the base

 

 

g/kWh

 

Hydro, run of river

Continuous

6

Base

Nuclear

Continuous

8

1.3

Wind

Variable, intermittent

14

2.3

Hydro, reservoir

Continuous

17

2.8

PV solar

Variable, intermittent

64

10.7

Gas

Continuous

620

103.3

Coal

Continuous

879

146.5

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Comment by Willem Post on April 3, 2018 at 11:48am

Thinklike,

It seems to me, CO2 is such a tiny fraction of the molecules in the air, 405 out of 1,000,000, or 0.04%, it likely has very little impact on global warming.

Other factors: agriculture, deforestation, urbanization, high altitude air travel, etc., likely have at least as much an impact.

Comment by Thinklike A. Mountain on April 2, 2018 at 10:14am

First Prize

NE Book Festival

 

Maine as Third World Country:

CMP Transmission Rate Skyrockets 19.6% Due to Wind Power

 

Click here to read how the Maine ratepayer has been sold down the river by the Angus King cabal.

Maine Center For Public Interest Reporting – Three Part Series: A CRITICAL LOOK AT MAINE’S WIND ACT (excerpts) From Part 1 – On Maine’s Wind Law “Once the committee passed the wind energy bill on to the full House and Senate, lawmakers there didn’t even debate it. They passed it unanimously and with no discussion. House Majority Leader Hannah Pingree, a Democrat from North Haven, says legislators probably didn’t know how many turbines would be constructed in Maine if the law’s goals were met." . – Maine Center for Public Interest Reporting, August 2010  http://www.pinetreewatchdog.org/wind-power-bandwagon-hits-bumps-in-the-road-3/From Part 2 – On Wind and Oil Yet using wind energy doesn’t lower dependence on imported foreign oil. That’s because the majority of imported oil in Maine is used for heating and transportation. And switching our dependence from foreign oil to Maine-produced electricity isn’t likely to happen very soon, says Bartlett. “Right now, people can’t switch to electric cars and heating – if they did, we’d be in trouble.” So was one of the fundamental premises of the task force false, or at least misleading?"  http://www.pinetreewatchdog.org/wind-swept-task-force-set-the-rules/From Part 3 – On Wind-Required New Transmission Lines Finally, the building of enormous, high-voltage transmission lines that the regional electricity system operator says are required to move substantial amounts of wind power to markets south of Maine was never even discussed by the task force – an omission that Mills said will come to haunt the state.“If you try to put 2,500 or 3,000 megawatts in northern or eastern Maine – oh, my god, try to build the transmission!” said Mills. “It’s not just the towers, it’s the lines – that’s when I begin to think that the goal is a little farfetched.” http://www.pinetreewatchdog.org/flaws-in-bill-like-skating-with-dull-skates/

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