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Environ Sci Technol. 2005 Nov 15;39(22):8584-90.

Environmental effects of interstate power trading on electricity consumption mixes.

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Department of Civil and Environmental Engineering, Carnegie Mellon University, 5000 Forbes Avenue, Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania 15213, USA.


Although many studies of electricity generation use national or state average generation mix assumptions, in reality a great deal of electricity is transferred between states with very different mixes of fossil and renewable fuels, and using the average numbers could result in incorrect conclusions in these studies. We create electricity consumption profiles for each state and for key industry sectors in the U.S. based on existing state generation profiles, net state power imports, industry presence by state, and an optimization model to estimate interstate electricity trading. Using these "consumption mixes" can provide a more accurate assessment of electricity use in life-cycle analyses. We conclude that the published generation mixes for states that import power are misleading, since the power consumed in-state has a different makeup than the power that was generated. And, while most industry sectors have consumption mixes similar to the U.S. average, some of the most critical sectors of the economy--such as resource extraction and material processing sectors--are very different. This result does validate the average mix assumption made in many environmental assessments, but it is important to accurately quantify the generation methods for electricity used when doing life-cycle analyses.

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