The Progressive


A project of Common Dreams

For Immediate Release
Contact: Elliott Negin,Media Director,

Stronger Efficiency, Renewables Measures Would Benefit Consumers, Industry


If Congress passed climate and energy legislation that strengthened
the energy efficiency and renewable energy standards in the version the
House of Representatives approved last June, consumer electric and
natural gas costs would be $113 billion lower by 2030, and emitters
would pay 4 percent less in compliance costs, according to an analysis
released today by the Union of Concerned Scientists (UCS). The analysis
also found that stronger renewable energy and efficiency policies would
avoid the need for nearly 50 new nuclear reactors and diversify the
nation's energy mix more quickly than the current bill would.

"Combining a cap on global warming pollution with robust efficiency
and renewable energy provisions is the quickest, most cost-effective
way to transition to the clean energy economy everyone agrees we need,"
said Jeff Deyette, a senior analyst at UCS's Climate and Energy Program
and author of the analysis. "The government's own conservative data
shows that a comprehensive approach is an affordable way to protect the
environment. It also ensures that U.S. companies can compete in the
emerging international green technology market."

In August 2009, the U.S. Energy Information Administration (EIA)
analyzed the House bill, the American Clean Energy and Security Act,
which included a cap on global warming emissions and a combined energy
efficiency and renewable electricity standard requiring large utilities
to increase their use of efficiency and renewable energy 20 percent by
2025. The EIA analysis showed that the House bill was affordable and
achievable, but it also showed that loopholes in its efficiency and
renewable energy standard would undermine any substantial growth of
renewable energy.

Using the EIA energy forecasting model and its cost and performance
assumptions, UCS analyzed the costs and benefits of the House bill with
a stronger, 25-percent-by-2025 national renewable electricity standard
and a separate energy efficiency resource standard requiring utilities
to reduce consumer and business electricity use by 10 percent by 2020.

Compared with EIA's August 2009 analysis of the current House bill,
a strengthened bill would provide the following benefits by 2030:

  • reduce ratepayers utility costs by a cumulative $113 billion.
    Households would save $51 billion, commercial business would save $42
    billion, and industrial customers would save $20 billion compared to
    the current House bill. Increased renewable energy use would encourage
    competition and diversify the energy mix, leading to more stable energy
    prices and lower electricity and natural gas prices. Gains in
    efficiency would reduce energy use, which would save ratepayers even
  • reduce carbon allowance prices for polluters by more than 4
    percent. Stronger standards for efficiency and renewable energy would
    help low-cost technologies overcome key market barriers so they can
    play a larger role in reducing emissions than would be possible with
    carbon allowances alone. Once deployed, efficiency and renewable energy
    would help lower carbon prices.
  • reduce gross domestic product by less than one-tenth of 1
    percent. The EIA analysis of the current House bill showed that a
    national climate and energy policy would have a minimal effect on the
    overall U.S. economy. UCS found that a stronger bill would have a
    comparable effect.
  • increase renewable electricity generation (excluding hydropower) 23 percent.
  • increase efficiency and reduce total electricity sales 6 percent.
  • avoid the need to build additional electricity capacity equivalent to nearly 50 new nuclear reactors.

"Watered down climate and energy policies mean watered down benefits
for consumers and businesses," said Alan Nogee, the UCS Climate and
Energy Program's director of strategy and policy. "A firm pollution
cap and a serious commitment to renewables and efficiency are the key
elements of an effective, affordable climate and energy bill."

The Union of Concerned Scientists is the leading science-based nonprofit working for a healthy environment and a safer world. UCS combines independent scientific research and citizen action to develop innovative, practical solutions and to secure responsible changes in government policy, corporate practices, and consumer choices.