Low-Carbon Electricity Pathways for the U.S. and the South: An Assessment of Costs and Options

Georgia Institute of Technology, School of Public Policy / by Marilyn Brown, et al.
http://b.gatech.edu/1JS51OW

Since the release of the Clean Power Plan (CPP), stakeholders across the U.S. have vigorously debated the pros and cons of different options for reducing CO2 emissions from existing power plants. By providing energy modeling relevant to these decisions, the authors seek to help policymakers and other stakeholders make well-informed choices. This paper uses the Georgia Institute of Technology’s National Energy Modeling System to evaluate alternative low-carbon electricity pathways. Our modeling suggests that CPP compliance can be achieved cost effectively with a combination of renewable and energy-efficiency policies plus a modest price on carbon that could be expected to result from the Plan’s implementation. In addition to transitioning to a low-carbon power system, this compliance pathway would produce substantial collateral benefits including lower electricity bills across all customer classes, greater GDP growth, and significant reductions in SO2, NOx, and mercury emissions. The variation in compliance costs across the nation and within the South suggests that regional approaches to compliance would be most cost-effective. In addition, our modeling indicates that rate-based goals may generally be less costly than mass-based goals, particularly in the South.

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