Carbon emissions rank third—up from sixth last year—among electric utilities’ top environmental concerns, according to a Black & Veatch Corp report.
For the sixth straight year, water supply issues were second only to carbon emissions legislation as the top environmental concern in the industry.
Black & Veatch conducted its sixth annual electric utility industry survey of 543 managers and engineers across the US from Feb. 22 through March 23. The engineering and consulting firm found that more than 90 percent of respondents believe that renewables will increase prices for consumers anywhere from 5 to 30 percent, with the largest percentage (38 percent) assuming a 10 percent increase for their customers.
Additionally, 65 percent of utility respondents reported rate increases during the past year, and 92 percent reported that the cost of regulations will cause prices to rise for consumers. More than 52 percent said complying with regulatory and environmental rules reduce emissions will require them to “significantly” raise customer rates, while 40 percent expected rates to increase “slightly.”
When it comes to “viable clean energy” technologies, the “big three” that electric utilities project for 2020 are natural gas (79 percent), hydroelectric (61 percent) and nuclear (52 percent), which rank above wind power (40 percent), solar energy (32 percent), biomass (29 percent), coal gasification (19 percent) and tidal generation (9 percent), according to the survey.
Meanwhile, the global carbon market grew 11 percent, to $176 billion, in 2011, according to the World Bank’s State and Trends of the Carbon Market report. Transaction volumes reached a new high of 10.3 billion tons of CO2 equivalent.
EU Allowances made up the largest segment of the carbon market, valued at $148 billion, the report says. Additionally, it says the volume of secondary Kyoto offsets grew by 43 percent, to 1.8 billion tons of CO2 equivalent, valued at $23 billion, fueled by increased liquidity in the Certified Emission Reduction market and in the nascent secondary Emission Reduction Unit market.
The market for voluntary carbon offsetting hit a three-year high in 2011, with transactions worth more than $576 million taking place, according to research by environmental markets information service Ecosystem Marketplace published in May.