The Texas electric industry ensures Texans are able to come home to air-conditioned houses, working appliances to prepare warm meals and a television to catch up on the events of the day. Electric generators also operate with intentional consideration given to the environment, letting Texans enjoy the outdoors, clean air included. In fact, Texas is among the nationwide leaders in low emissions rates, and the state’s fleet of electric generators does its part to maintain this standing.
The emissions created as byproducts of power plants include nitrogen oxides (NOx) and sulfur dioxide (SO2), which are known as “criteria emissions,” and are regulated by the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA). The EPA also has begun regulating carbon dioxide (CO2) emissions. Power plants are not the sole source of these air emissions: cars on the road, industrial manufacturing plants and even natural plant processes have high emissions rates.
Data from the EPA’s Air Markets Program shows that Texas electric generating plants emit less NOx, SO2 and CO2 per unit of power generated than the US average. This can be attributed to Texas’ relatively new, well-maintained electric generation fleet.
Although it is easy to recognize the speed at which the population of Texas is growing today, most of this growth has been in the last three decades. As more electricity was needed in Texas, and more air conditioners were plugged in, power plants were brought online. These power plants are relatively new compared to the power plants across the rest of the nation. Thus, electric generating plants in Texas often feature technologies like scrubbers that absorb SO2 before it is released into the atmosphere.
Another benefit of Texas’ generation fleet is our balanced mix of fuels. Power plants here use substantial amounts of coal, natural gas, nuclear power and wind, ensuring we don’t get too dependent on a single fuel source. So it provides a mix of reliability and low emissions.
AECT member companies take part in the stakeholder processes at the Texas Commission on Environmental Quality (TCEQ) and the EPA, acting and operating in accordance with environmental regulations. In total, Texas has a good story to tell on power plant emissions, regularly leading in emissions cuts while providing reliable electricity.