As the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) moves forward with standards to reduce emissions from existing power plants—which are due to be finalized in June 2015—many states are thinking through how they will comply. WRI’s fact sheet series, Power Sector Opportunities for Reducing Carbon Dioxide Emissions, examines the policies and pathways various states can use to cost-effectively meet or even exceed future power plant emissions standards. This post explores these opportunities in Missouri. Read about additional analyses in this series.

New WRI analysis finds that Missouri can decrease its emission rate—the carbon-intensity of its power generation—by 21 percent below 2012 levels in 2020 and 31 percent below 2012 levels in 2030. Missouri can achieve these reductions by taking advantage of available infrastructure and expanding its clean energy policies. This would put Missouri on a path to meet, and even exceed, EPA’s proposed standards for existing power plants in the state.

Missouri’s Emissions Are Expected To Grow

Missouri’s power sector CO2 emissions fell 3 percent between 2005 and 2012 as coal use decreased slightly and generation from renewable sources doubled. Still, renewable sources accounted for only 2 percent of total generation in 2012. Coal accounted for 79 percent of generation, while nuclear and natural gas sources comprised 12 percent and 7 percent, respectively.

Electricity demand in Missouri is projected to grow 12 percent between 2012 and 2030. If the state meets this growth as anticipated through increased coal and natural gas use, rather than renewable sources, emissions could rise 12 percent in the same time frame.

How Missouri Can Meet Future Emissions Standards

As we discussed in a blog post in June, EPA’s Clean Power Plan offers broad flexibility in how states can comply with their standards. States can use many strategies to lower their CO2 emission rates, including greater use of natural gas and renewables, improved energy efficiency, and others.

Missouri can meet about 70 percent of EPA’s emission rate target for the state between 2020 and 2030 with the following measures:

  • Improving energy efficiency
    Missouri’s Energy Efficiency Investment Act calls for the state’s investor-owned utilities to capture all cost-effective energy efficiency opportunities, and establishes a voluntary goal of nearly 10 percent cumulative savings of electricity sales by 2020. Meeting this goal can help the state reduce its emission rate.

  • Increasing use of renewable energy Missouri’s Renewable Energy Standard (RES) requires 15 percent of the electricity sold by its investor-owned utilities to come from renewable sources by 2021. Meeting the RES through in-state generation can help the state reduce its emission rate.

  • Using more combined heat and power (CHP). Missouri can build more CHP systems—which use waste heat to generate electricity more efficiently than the average power plant—at sites like universities, hospitals, and manufacturing facilities.

  • Using more gas. Missouri’s most efficient natural gas plants—combined cycle (NGCC) units—generated much less electricity than they were capable of producing in 2012. Running existing and planned NGCC plants at 75 percent can help the state meet its emission rate target.

  • Increasing existing coal plant efficiency by 2.5 percent. Existing coal plants could save energy by upgrading their equipment and making other operational improvements.

Missouri can close the gap that remains, and even exceed its proposed target, by:

  • Increasing its energy efficiency goal to 2 percent of sales from 2015 onward.

  • Ensuring that all utilities, not just investor-owned utilities, meet the state’s renewable standard and continue to increase renewable generation to 20 percent of total generation by 2030.

Missouri’s Clean Energy Policies Are Smart Economic Policies

Ameren Missouri, the state’s largest utility, estimated that reducing electricity use 10 percent by 2020 (the state’s voluntary goal) and 11 percent by 2030 could deliver $1.7 billion in net benefits for the state through 2030. And even greater state-wide savings could be possible with additional measures. The American Council for an Energy-Efficient Economy estimated that implementing a suite of new efficiency initiatives, including utility programs and building codes, could save Missouri’s consumers $6.1 billion in lower energy bills and could create over 8,500 new jobs.

Scaling up renewables can also boost the economy and create local jobs. The state’s renewable energy standard could create up to nearly 30,000 jobs and more than $1 billion in new income to state residents by 2021. The American Wind Energy Association estimated that as of 2011, Missouri’s wind industry had generated $2.6 million in annual property tax payments and over $1 million in lease payments to landowners. According to the Natural Resources Defense Council, the state could gain $15 million in property tax revenue and $75 million per year in economic benefits through deployment of 25 moderately sized wind farms (100 MW), an 80 percent increase in capacity over 2012 levels.

Missouri Can Build Off Progress Made to Date

Missouri has taken steps to increase investment in renewable energy and energy efficiency. By building on its progress, Missouri can achieve cost-effective emissions reductions going forward while bringing economic benefits to the state. By taking advantage of available infrastructure and expanding its clean energy policies, Missouri can put itself in a good position to comply with EPA’s proposed standards for existing power plants and help prevent the worsening impacts of climate change.