Solutions Forum

EPA's Clean Power Plan puts states in the driver's seat

The finalization today of EPA’s Clean Power Plan offers Americans a clear, realistic roadmap for addressing planet-warming emissions that threaten the environment and the U.S. economy.

Most importantly, it puts states in the driver’s seat to devise innovative strategies to reduce emissions efficiently and cost-effectively. Now it's time for states to work together with businesses and cities to craft the approaches that work best for them.

Climate change is a critical challenge, and the impacts will only grow more costly if we fail to act. Last year was the warmest on Earth since we started keeping records over a century ago. During the first half of this year, it got even hotter. Climate change impacts include more extreme heat, which can exacerbate drought and wildfires, more frequent and intense downpours that can lead to destructive floods, and rising sea levels that threaten coastal cities.

Many cities, states, and companies recognize climate risks. And many are taking steps to reduce greenhouse gas emissions.

New federal standards are already reducing heat-trapping emissions from the second-biggest source, transportation, by increasing the fuel economy of cars and trucks. The Clean Power Plan takes the next logical step by addressing the largest source: the electric power sector, responsible for nearly 40 percent of U.S. carbon dioxide emissions.

Energy efficiency will play a key role in the Clean Power Plan

A new C2ES study outlines the significant role energy efficiency is expected to play in reducing carbon emissions from power plants under the proposed Clean Power Plan.

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.

How can we use intelligent efficiency to reduce power sector emissions?

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.

 

Key Insights from a Solutions Forum on Carbon Pricing and Clean Power

Key Insights from a Solutions Forum
on Carbon Pricing and Clean Power

April 2015

By Jason Ye

Download the Key Insights (PDF)

 

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.

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. This document summarizes key insights and highlights from the event.
Jason Ye
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