Dive Brief:

  • State and local policymakers “are not quantifying or fully reflecting the health benefits” of efficiency and renewables projects in their decision-making processes, according to a new report from the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency appraising those benefits.
  • The benefits-per-kWh (BPK) for energy efficiency range from $0.0042/kWh to $0.0808/kWh, depending on the scenario and geography, while the BPK of solar energy can also exceed $0.08/kWh and wind tops out at $0.0759/kWh.
  • Efficiency advocates said the information can help lawmakers develop better policy that fully incorporates the benefits of reducing energy use, but at the same time the Trump administration is pursuing a range of policies that clean energy experts say will keep less-efficient products on the market and cost customers money.

Dive Insight:

EPA said state and local policymakers have increasingly been asking for the agency’s assistance in “understanding the opportunities for using energy efficiency and renewable energy to reduce air pollution and improve public health. “

“[S]tate and local decision-makers may not be fully aware of or confident in the available quantification tools and methods; or they lack the time, resources, or expertise needed to quantify the health benefits” of renewables and efficiency, according to the report. 

For efficiency, the report considered its value both in times of peak demand (from $0.0046/kWh to $0.0808/kWh) and at times of steady consumption ($0.0042/kWh to $0.0795/kWh).

“This is exactly the kind of information policy-makers need to make better decisions that fully account for the many co-benefits of efficiency,” Alliance to Save Energy President Jason Hartke said in a statement. “When you look at the full picture, it’s painfully clear we should be investing a lot more in efficiency at the state, local, and federal levels.”

At the federal level, the Trump administration has tried to prop up struggling coal plants and has worked to slow energy efficiency advances. This summer, the Department of Energy issued a proposal to ease the ability of manufacturers to temporarily avoid testing to determine whether their products meet federal efficiency standards.

In addition, the administration has been slow to issue appliance standards, has targeted Energy Star appliance ratings, and is attempting to make changes to efficiency standards for light bulbs.

A DOE representative directed inquiries about the report and administration’s policies to the EPA. An EPA spokesperson said the agency would not be able to comment this week.

The estimates in the report are based on 2017 electricity generation data and emissions, population, baseline mortality incidence rate and income growth projections.