The California Climate Action Registry: Development of Methodologies for Calculating Greenhouse Gas Emissions from Electricity Generation
The California Climate Action Registry, which will begin operation in Fall 2002, is a voluntary registry for California businesses and organizations to record annual greenhouse gas emissions. Reporting of emissions in the Registry by a participant involves documentation of both "direct" emissions from sources that are under the entity's control and "indirect" emissions controlled by others. Electricity generated by an off-site power source is considered to be an indirect emission and must be included in the entity's report. Published electricity emissions factors for the State of California vary considerably due to differences in whether utility-owned out-of-state generation, non-utility generation, and electricity imports from other states are included. This paper describes the development of three methods for estimating electricity emissions factors for calculating the combined net carbon dioxide emissions from all generating facilities that provide electricity to Californians. We find that use of a statewide average electricity emissions factor could drastically under- or over-estimate an entity's emissions due to the differences in generating resources among the utility service areas and seasonal variations. In addition, differentiating between marginal and average emissions is essential to accurately estimate the carbon dioxide savings from reducing electricity use. Results of this work will be taken into consideration by the Registry when finalizing its guidance for use of electricity emissions factors in calculating an entity's greenhouse gas emissions.