The Center for Climate and Energy Solutions seeks to inform the design and implementation of federal policies that will significantly reduce greenhouse gas emissions. Drawing from its extensive peer-reviewed published works, in-house policy analyses, and tracking of current legislative proposals, the Center provides research, analysis, and recommendations to policymakers in Congress and the Executive Branch. Read More
States could go a long way toward meeting targets for reduced power plant emissions under the Clean Power Plan just by encouraging energy efficiency. One way to do that is to deploy more “intelligent efficiency” solutions at home. Interconnected systems and smart devices could not only help reduce energy use and climate-altering emissions, but also empower consumers to make money-saving choices.
More than 20 percent of U.S. greenhouse gases comes from the residential sector – where we use about 1.4 trillion kWh of electricity annually to power our heating and cooling systems, appliances and electronics. Although we pay for it all, a lot of that electricity is wasted. Tried-and-true solutions like weatherization and more efficient light bulbs will continue to be common sense solutions. But increasingly, homeowners, innovators, and policy makers are looking to leverage the average home’s 25 devices to reduce that waste.
Image courtesy U.S. Department of Energy
A homeowner installs a smart thermostat. Devices like this could be controlled though web platforms, along with water heaters, washing machines and LED bulbs with advanced controls.
Energy efficiency can be an attractive way for states to meet the plan’s targets because, in addition to being relatively inexpensive to deploy on its own, energy efficiency reduces the need to build new, costly power plants in the future.
C2ES examined six economic modeling studies that project the likely impacts of the Clean Power Plan on the U.S. power mix and electricity prices. Despite starting with different assumptions, all of the studies project that energy efficiency will be the most used and least-cost option for states to implement the plan, and that overall electricity consumption will decline as a result.
The majority of the studies project either cost savings to power users under the Clean Power Plan or increases of less than $10 billion a year. That translates to less than $87 a year per household, or about 25 cents a day.
|C2ES President Bob Perciasepe moderates a Solutions Forum panel with (l to r): Steve Harper, Global Director, Environment and Energy Policy, Intel Corporation; Alyssa Caddle, Principle Program Manager, Office of Sustainability, EMC; and Lars Kvale, Head of Business Development, APX Environmental Markets.|
Our second Solutions Forum focused on how to spur more energy efficiency, especially through “intelligent efficiency” — a systems-based approach to energy management enabled through networked devices and sensors.
States have an array of policy options to reduce carbon emissions from power plants. In the first of a three-part clean power series, C2ES brings together state leaders and industry experts to explore market-based approaches to efficiently and effectively implementing EPA's proposed Clean Power Plan.
April 15, 2015
9:00 a.m. – 12:00 p.m.
Capitol View Conference Center
101 Constitution Ave. NW
Washington, DC 20001
(Doors open at 8:30 a.m.)
Director, Rhode Island Department of Environmental Management
Director, Virginia Department of Environmental Quality
Director of Environmental Programs, Colorado Department of Public Health & Environment
Vice President, Environmental Management and Resources, DTE Energy
Government Affairs and Corporate Social Responsibility, Holcim (US) Inc.
Director of Energy and Environmental Policy, Duke Energy
Senior Manager, Federal Government Affairs, Exelon
Senior Fellow, Brookings Institution
Professor, Stanford Law School
President, Center for Climate and Energy Solutions
Nobody likes waste. And yet when we produce, distribute and use electricity, we’re wasting up to two-thirds of the energy.
Although we can’t eliminate all of these losses, we could reduce waste and increase reliability through “intelligent efficiency”— technology like networked devices and sensors, smart grids and thermostats, and energy management systems.
If we used energy more efficiently, we’d also reduce the harmful carbon dioxide emissions coming from our power plants — and reduce our electric bills.
That’s why energy efficiency is expected to be a critical, low-cost path for states looking to reduce power plant emissions under the proposed Clean Power Plan.
C2ES is pulling together top experts in sustainability, efficiency, and technology from cities, states and business to explore how we can deploy intelligent efficiency to help reach Clean Power Plan emissions targets. (RSVP for our event Monday, May 18, in Washington, D.C.)
Just as technology can instantly connect us with people across the globe or monitor our calories and whether we’re burning enough of them, we have technology that will allow us to network and monitor how we produce, deliver and consume electricity.
In Brief: Legal Options for U.S. Acceptance of a New Climate Change Agreement
By Daniel Bodansky, Sandra Day O’Connor College of Law, Arizona State University
U.S. acceptance of the new climate agreement being negotiated under the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC) may or may not require legislative approval, depending on its contents. U.S. law recognizes several routes for entering into international legal agreements. The president would be on relatively firm legal ground accepting a new climate agreement with legal force, without submitting it to the Senate or Congress for approval, to the extent it is procedurally oriented, could be implemented on the basis of existing law, and is aimed at implementing or elaborating the UNFCCC. On the other hand, if the new agreement establishes legally binding emissions limits or new legally binding financial commitments, this would weigh in favor of seeking Senate or congressional approval. However, the exact scope of the president’s legal authority to conclude international agreements is uncertain, and the president’s decision will likely rest also on political and prudential considerations.
The brief is based on the report, Legal Options for U.S. Acceptance of a New Climate Change Agreement, which provides a fuller legal analysis.
Legal Options for U.S. Acceptance of a New Climate Change Agreement
By Daniel Bodansky, Sandra Day O’Connor College of Law, Arizona State University
The success of ongoing negotiations to establish a new global climate change agreement depends heavily on the agreement’s acceptance by the world’s major economies, including the United States. The new agreement is being negotiated under the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC), a treaty with 195 parties that was ratified by the United States in 1992 with the advice and consent of the U.S. Senate. U.S. acceptance of the new agreement may or may not require legislative approval, depending on its specific contents.
U.S. law recognizes several routes for entering into international agreements. The most commonly known, under Article II of the Constitution, requires advice and consent by two-thirds of the Senate. In practice, however, the United States has accepted the vast majority of the international agreements to which it is a party through other procedures. These include congressional-executive agreements, which are approved by both houses of Congress, and presidential-executive agreements, which are approved solely by the president.
The President would be on relatively firm legal ground accepting a new climate agreement with legal force, without submitting it to the Senate or Congress for approval, to the extent it is procedurally oriented, could be implemented on the basis of existing law, and is aimed at implementing or elaborating the UNFCCC. On the other hand, if the new agreement establishes legally binding emissions limits or new legally binding financial commitments, this would weigh in favor of seeking Senate or congressional approval. However, the exact scope of the President’s legal authority to conclude international agreements is uncertain, and the President’s decision will likely rest also on political and prudential considerations.
About 10 percent of Canadian electricity, much of it generated from hydropower, is exported to the United States. With Canada expected to expand its hydropower capacity in coming years, could some states take advantage of this non-emitting resource to meet Clean Power Plan goals to reduce carbon emissions?
A new C2ES report, Canadian Hydropower and the Clean Power Plan, explores this question, including how the proposed plan would need to be adjusted, and how select states could benefit.
While U.S. hydropower is not expected to significantly expand in the near future, hydropower is growing in Canada, where it already supplies 60 percent of the country’s electricity. More than 5,500 megawatts (MW), enough to power about 2.4 million homes, have been added in the last decade. An additional 11,000 MW is either under construction, nearing the construction phase, or has been announced. To put this in perspective, Canada’s entire electricity generation system is about 128,000 MW.
Key Insights from a Solutions Forum on Carbon Pricing and Clean PowerApril 2015
States will have tremendous flexibility to choose how to reduce carbon emissions under the Clean Power Plan. One idea states are exploring is putting a price on carbon. The first C2ES Solutions Forum — held on April 15, 2015 — brought together legal and economic experts, state environmental directors, and business leaders to explore the potential use of market mechanisms to reduce these damaging emissions efficiently and cost-effectively.
For more information about the C2ES Solutions Forum, see: http://www.c2es.org/initiatives/solutions-forum
Key insights and highlights from the event on carbon pricing and clean power include:
- Most economists agree that the most efficient way to address climate change is to put a price on carbon.
- The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) has given states tremendous flexibility to determine the best way to achieve emission targets.
- Virtually every state is already engaged in some activity that reduces emissions.
- Market-based options available under the proposed Clean Power Plan go beyond creating or joining a cap-and-trade program or instituting a carbon tax.
- States and businesses generally agree that market mechanisms are a proven, least-cost way to reduce emissions.
- States believe support from the business community will be essential to adopting market-based options.
- State and business leaders recognize the need to talk to one another about the best way to reduce emissions.
- States are concerned about having enough time to develop market-based policies.
- State and company representatives see a role for EPA to help states after the Clean Power Plan is finalized.
C2ES will continue the conversation with states and businesses to share insights and innovative ideas that will help us get to a clean energy future. Our second Solutions Forum on May 18 will explore improving energy efficiency, which reduces emissions, through information and communication technologies. Our third event on June 25 will examine how to finance clean energy technology and infrastructure.