US EPA Issues Clean Energy Action Guide for States
The US EPA issued a report that outlines a strategy to deliver clean, low-cost, and reliable energy to state residents through the use of energy efficiency, renewable energy, and clean distributed generation. The intent is to provide states with the information they need to determine what energy options would be the most beneficial, practical, and cost-effective.
The potential energy savings achievable through state actions is significant. EPA estimates that if each state were to implement cost-effective clean energy-environment policies, the expected growth in demand for electricity could be cut in half by 2025, and more demand could be met through cleaner energy supply.
This would mean annual savings of more than 900 billion kilowatt-hours (kWh) and $70 billion in energy costs by 2025, while preventing the need for more than 300 power plants and reducing greenhouse gas emissions by an amount equivalent to emissions from 80 million of today’s vehicles.
Opportunities for State Action
State governments are increasingly developing policies and programs that address their energy challenges and spur greater investment in energy efficiency, renewable energy, and clean distributed resources. For example, states are:
Leading by example by establishing programs that achieve substantial energy cost savings within their own state facilities, fleets, and operations and encouraging the broader adoption of clean energy by the public and private sectors.
State governments across the country are collaborating with state agencies, local governments, and schools to identify and capture energy savings within their facilities and operations, purchase or generate renewable energy, and use clean DG/CHP in their facilities.
Establishing ratepayer-funded energy efficiency programs (e.g., public benefits funds) to help over come a variety of first-cost, informational, split-incentive, and other market barriers that limit greater reliance on energy efficiency. Seventeen states and Washington, D.C. have adopted public benefits funds (PBFs) for energy efficiency, and 16 states have developed PBFs for clean energy supply.
Adopting state minimum appliance efficiency standards for products not covered by the federal government that yield net cost savings to businesses and consumers. Ten states have adopted appliance standards covering 36 types of appliances (Delaski
2005, Nadel et al. 2005).
Establishing renewable portfolio standards (RPS) that direct electric utilities and other retail electric providers to supply a specified minimum percent age (or absolute amount) of customer load with eligible sources of renewable electricity. Twenty-one states and Washington, D.C. have adopted RPS requirements, which are expected to generate more than 26,000 MW of new renewable energy capacity by 2015 (Navigant 2005).
Reviewing utility incentives and planning processes and designing policies that accurately value energy efficiency, renewables, and distributed resources in a way that "levels the playing field" so public utility commissions and consumers can make fair, economically based comparisons between clean energy and other resources. More than 12 states have developed approaches that remove disincentives for utilities to invest in demand-side resources.