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U.S. EPA awards APS for addressing most potent greenhouse gas / Arizona utility takes action against climate change

Release Date: 02/05/2009
Contact Information: Wendy Chavez, 415/947-4248, chavez.wendy@epa.gov

(San Francisco, Calif. -- 02/05/2009) The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency has recognized Arizona Public Service for reducing emissions of the most potent greenhouse gas, sulfur hexafluoride (SF6), -- the equivalent to annual emissions from more than 200,000 cars.

“APS is to be commended for its early action on climate protection and its commitment to sharing information across the sector,” said Deborah Jordan, the EPA’s Air Division director for the Pacific Southwest region. “This company demonstrates that through partnerships and dedication to emissions reductions, the power transmission sector can reduce emissions of SF6 significantly.”

SF6 is a greenhouse gas that traps heat in the atmosphere at a rate of about 23,000 times higher than carbon dioxide, making it the most potent greenhouse gas currently in use. One pound of SF6 has the same global warming impact of nearly 11 tons of carbon dioxide. Once emitted, SF6 remains in the atmosphere for over 3,000 years, resulting in an essentially irreversible impact on the climate. SF6 is used by the electric power industry as an insulator in the high voltage equipment that transmits and distributes electricity between generating stations and customer load centers.

Two companies, APS and Consolidated Edison Company of New York, were awardees announced at the U.S. EPA’s 2009 Workshop on SF6 Emission Reduction Strategies in Phoenix.

Arizona Public Service prevented more than 100,000 pounds of SF6 from entering the atmosphere during the period from 2001 to 2007 by adopting improved handling and maintenance practices and increasing SF6 recycling.

Consolidated Edison Company of New York prevented 671,014 pounds of SF6 from entering the atmosphere from 1999 to 2007 – the equivalent to the annual emissions from over 1.3 million cars -- by replacing equipment and improving leak detection.

The SF6 Emission Reduction Partnership for Electric Power Systems, which was launched in 1999, is a collaborative effort between the EPA and the electric power industry to identify and implement cost-effective solutions to reduce SF6 emissions. Currently 81 utilities participate in the voluntary program. For more information on the partnership program and awardees, visit: http://www.epa.gov/electricpower-SF6/

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