Tallahassee Hits Its Greenhouse Gas Targetsby Eli Yewdall, Regional Office, Southeast Region
(Image credit: Reprinted from City of Tallahassee website)
New ICLEI member Tallahassee, FL, has rapidly distinguished itself. The municipality is now among the elite number of local governments to have achieved its own greenhouse gas emissions reduction target. Emissions across government operations were reduced 5.3 percent from 2008 to 2009, accomplishing the city's 5 percent reduction goal.
The City, the capital of the state of Florida, is among the municipalities that owns and operates its own electric utility. Through measures described below, the city has reduced greenhouse gas emissions produced by the electric utility in 2009 to 7.5 percent below 1990 levels. Generation and purchase of electricity by the utility represent approximately 98 percent of emissions from City of Tallahassee government operations, and 44 percent of community-wide emissions in Leon and Wakulla counties (which include the City of Tallahassee).
City of Tallahassee electric utility emissions. A significant decrease in CO2 per MWH
(yellow) has allowed a reduction in total emissions (red), even as electric demand
(blue) has increased. The demand curve can be seen to begin bending down in the
last few years.Click to view a larger version of this image.
The Key: Increasing Efficiency at Its Power Plant
Tallahassee’s emissions reductions were achieved primarily by increasing the efficiency of electric generating plants and by switching the primary fuel from oil to natural gas. The emissions reduction was achieved despite a 47 percent increase in electricity use by customers from 1990 to 2009. At the Sam O. Purdom Generating Station, originally built in 1952, two steam boilers were replaced with the 233 megawatt (MW) combined cycle Unit 8 in 2000, increasing efficiency by 30 percent. Unit 2 of the Arvah B. Hopkins Generating Station, built in 1977, was repowered with a 300 MW combined cycle unit completed in mid 2008. In addition to reducing emissions, the Hopkins repowering is expected to save $12-24 million a year in fuel costs which will be passed on to customers as lower bills.
Further Reductions Require Decreased Demand
The City Manager has set a goal to reduce community emissions by an additional 2 percent in 2010. City staff recognize that maintaining emissions reductions will require turning the demand curve downward, and Tallahassee offers electricity customers a variety of loans, grants, and rebates for energy efficiency measures. In a promising trend, electricity use by customers has decreased in each of the past three years, with 2009 consumption one percent lower than in 2008. In 2010 work will begin on additional programs for commercial demand response, residential demand response, demand reduction and energy efficiency, and low-income energy assistance.
While the electric utility represents the vast majority of local government emissions, Tallahassee has not neglected other areas of its operations. A reduction in the number of fleet vehicles, right-sizing policy and minimum mileage standards for new vehicles, and anti-idling policy all contributed to reducing gasoline and diesel use in city vehicles by 6.2 percent and 7.9 percent respectively in 2009. Programs to turn off equipment when not in use and adjust thermostat settings reduced electricity use in city facilities by about one half percent. Tallahassee is also working to address community emissions sources through increasing transit use and educational campaigns.
Tallahassee has reached the limit of efficiency possible with fossil-fuel generation, and further emissions reductions will have to come from encouraging customers to reduce electric usage and from developing renewable energy sources. Tallahassee became an ICLEI member in January 2010 and has completed ICLEI Milestone One and Milestone Two -- completion of a baseline inventory and setting a reduction goal -- in ICLEI’s Five Milestones for Climate Mitigation process. With the support of the ICLEI Network, the City of Tallahassee is creating a climate action plan that will allow it to continue the impressive progress it has already made in reducing greenhouse gas emissions.