Austin, Texas, April 4– The convoluted litigation surrounding the EPA’s Clean Power Plan (CPP) has put a roadblock in the way of its implementation, but this should not obscure the fact that a transition to a greener grid will continue, according to a new report from SPEER (the Southcentral Partnership for Energy Efficiency as a Resource). Aggressive pollution regulation, low natural gas prices and the extension of incentives for renewable energy are currently driving this transition irrespective of the outcome of CPP litigation.
“Considering the time horizon envisioned by the Plan,” said Bob King, SPEER’s CEO, “it seems inevitable that some sort of action will be taken to control the emissions of greenhouse gases by the electric power industry. Our analysis confirms that incremental investments in efficiency have high return for the consumers and the economy, the power industry, and the environment.”
The SPEER report, Efficiency and the Low-Carbon Future, primarily focuses on the ways in which energy efficiency can be a key contributor to reducing the cost of the transition to a greener grid. Energy efficiency can buffer the impact as the generation mix changes dramatically in a relatively short period of time. The aggressive pursuit of cost-effective energy efficiency measures is not only beneficial to consumers, and creates a net social benefit, it reduces the rate at which new generation and transmission lines must be built. Given the long lag times for approval and construction of some electricity grid infrastructure, energy efficiency can buy time to make the transition less disruptive, limiting the impact on grid reliability.
The report cites CPP rule analyses by both ERCOT and the EPA that shows that energy efficiency can create significant savings in electricity markets by putting downward pressure on wholesale electricity prices, by as much as 7-13 percent. While these studies were done in the context of the CPP implementation, they provide an estimate of the potential impact of aggressive energy efficiency programs on wholesale energy prices. The cost of these programs would be far less than the combination of direct savings to consumers, reduced energy prices generally, and reduced transmission and distribution costs.
“We estimate that demand in 2030 could be reduced by as much as 10 percent using a modest mix of energy efficiency programs, building codes, and appliance standards,” states the report by Steve Isser, an attorney and Ph.D. energy economist who authored the report. “These would help ‘lock in’ savings created by efficiency programs” assuring savings continue to manifest into the future.
To learn more about SPEER please visit www.eepartnership.org. To see the entire report, please visit https://eepartnership.org/wp-content/uploads/2016/03/Efficiency-and-The-Low-Carbon-Future.pdf