Up-to-Date Cost Data For Clean Energy Resources Mean Lower Costs, Greater Potential for Carbon Reductions
Natural Resources Defense Council
[Fierce Energy] The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency’s (EPA) Clean Power Plan proposal to curb carbon pollution from power plants overestimates the electric power industry’s compliance costs by as much as $9 billion, according to a Natural Resources Defense Council (NRDC) report.
Using current data, the power sector and its customers could actually save nearly $2 billion in 2020 while meeting the EPA’s carbon reduction targets, according to the NRDC report, who found that greater reliance on renewable sources of energy and on using energy more efficiently would produce substantial savings to power players and their customers.
NRDC’s report refutes claims that the EPA’s plan would be costly to the industry and its customers.
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First, NRDC points out, EPA overestimated the cost of deploying increased amounts of energy efficiency by nearly double current projections. Second, the agency used outdated cost and performance estimates for renewable electricity generation that were nearly 50 percent more expensive than current experience shows.
By factoring in more accurate and current cost and performance data for energy efficiency and renewable energy, NRDC found that EPA’s targets for curbing power plant carbon pollution can be met at a savings for the power sector.
Using up-to-date data sharply increases the net benefits of the power plant standards. EPA estimated that including health and environmental benefits as well as compliance costs, its proposal would produce net benefits of up to $50 billion in 2020 and up to $84 billion in 2030. NRDC’s analysis shows that the net benefits would be $9 billion higher than EPA’s estimates in 2020 and $15 billion higher than estimates in 2030.
In its report, NRDC updated the EPA’s cost and performance data for renewable power and energy efficiency to reflect current costs. Among other things, NRDC found that in 2030, energy-efficiency savings could total 140 terawatt-hours more than what EPA projected and renewable generation could be 171 terawatt-hours higher — collectively equivalent to the electricity used by 29 million homes in a year.
“It’s clear that EPA has ample room to significantly strengthen the Clean Power Plan, making deeper cuts to dangerous carbon pollution from power plants at a reasonable cost,” said Starla Yeh, the report’s co-author and a policy analyst in NRDC’s Climate and Clean Air Program. “It can do so relying more on energy efficiency and clean energy — such as wind and solar energy — which can help slash America’s biggest source of heat-trapping pollution. The good news is that we can afford to tackle the growing threat of climate change and, really, we can’t afford not to. Doing the right thing will save money even as we protect our health, our communities and future generations.”