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Energy company backs greenhouse gas curbs

Power company Progress Energy on Monday called for a U.S. plan on managing emissions of the gases many scientists have linked to global warming.
/ Source: Reuters

Power company Progress Energy on Monday called for a U.S. plan on managing emissions of the gases many scientists have linked to global warming.

U.S. power companies produce about 40 percent of the country’s carbon dioxide, the main heat-trapping gas linked to global warming. Scientists say warmer temperatures could increase the strength of storms and increase flooding in low-lying regions.

“There is enough understanding of the issue to warrant action by the private and public sectors,” Progress said about a report on global warming it released after a group of shareholders had asked the company to explain its position on greenhouse gas emissions.

In his first term, President Bush pulled the United States out of the international Kyoto Protocol which requires developed countries to reduce emissions of heat-trapping gases by about 5 percent from 1990 levels. Bush prefers voluntary ways of cutting gases.

U.S. emissions have risen about 15.8 percent from 1990 to 2004, according to the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency.

Progress stopped short of suggesting greenhouse gas emissions targets across its wide fleet of power plants.

But the company is taking a multi-pronged approach in managing the production of heat-trapping gases. That includes considering a switch to high-tech clean coal at plants, such as integrated gasification combined cycle, upgrading an oil-burning plant to run cleaner natural gas, and looking at the potential for burning animal waste at plant in North Carolina.

North Carolina-based Progress is also trying to expand its nuclear power generation, which is practically emissions-free. Progress said early this year it is evaluating a site near New Hill, N.C., for possible future nuclear generation expansion. Last year it submitted license applications for up to four new nuclear reactors at two sites in the South.

Progress joins U.S. utility Cinergy in calling for a national plan to regulate greenhouse gases.

But James Rogers, Cinergy chairman and chief executive, said this year there was only a 25 percent chance that carbon dioxide emissions would be regulated by 2009.

A Progress spokeswoman said the company supports a plan that would regulate greenhouse gas emissions on an “economy-wide scale,” not just at power plants.

Seven states in the Northeast are trying to form the nation’s first regional emissions pact by limiting emissions at power plants. New York state, which is a leader in that effort, is also trying to regulate carbon dioxide emissions from cars.

Last year the number one source of power for Progress was coal, the fuel that releases the most carbon dioxide. The 2005 power generation mix for Progress was 46 percent coal, 34 percent nuclear, 19 percent natural gas and oil, and 1 percent hydroelectric.