Just How Dirty Is Typical System Electricity?

The generation of electricity is the leading cause of industrial air pollution in the U.S., but just how dirty is it?

The generation of electricity is the leading cause of industrial air pollution in the U.S., but just how dirty is it? According to the Environmental Protection Agency, in the U.S., the electric industry is responsible for: 18 percent of Nitrous Oxide (NOx) emissions; 66 percent of Sulfur Dioxide (SO2) emissions; 41 percent of Carbon Dioxide (CO2) emissions domestically and 6.5 percent worldwide; and 33 percent of Mercury emissions.

 There are several environmental concerns associated with the emission of these pollutants:

  • NOx — Excessive levels of NOx deposited into bodies of water harm sensitive ecosystems. It is also responsible for the formation of ground level ozone or smog, causing respiratory harm to humans, crop damage, and reduced visibility.
  • NOx and SO2 — Combined, these two emissions produce fine, airborne particulates that cause lung and heart disease in humans. They also cause acidification of the ground and water through acid rain, impacting forest and water habitats.
  • Carbon Dioxide (CO2) — CO2 is associated with climate change, resulting in extreme weather and detrimental impacts to natural ecosystems.
  • Mercury — Emitted particulate mercury is deposited into the ground and water. It is then absorbed by plants and animals which may eventually be consumed by humans, causing liver, kidney, and brain damage in children and adults.

Typical system power often comes from fossil fuel power plants that use coal to generate electricity. However, Green Mountain Energy® electricity is generated from less-polluting sources like wind. By making the powerful choice to purchase Green Mountain Energy electricity, you have chosen to reduce your household’s share of harmful emissions that would normally be produced by your local system power generation.