Renewable Electricity Standard Would Save Consumers Billions in Utility Costs

A bill introduced in the House of Representatives would require utility companies to obtain 25 percent of their electricity from renewable sources by 2025, which would fight global warming while also cutting consumers’ electricity bills.
From the Union of Concerned Scientists
Feb. 26, 2009
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Consumers could save as much as $94 billion on their electricity and natural gas bills by 2030 if Congress enacted the national renewable electricity standard recently introduced by Rep. Edward J. Markey (D-Mass.) and Rep. Todd R. Platts (R-Pa.). This projection is from a preliminary analysis by the Union of Concerned Scientists (UCS), which used a modified version of the Department of Energy's National Electricity Modeling System for its analysis.

The Markey-Platts bill (H.R. 890), introduced earlier this month, would require utilities to obtain 25 percent of their electricity from renewable sources, such as wind, solar, bioenergy or geothermal, by 2025.

UCS' preliminary analysis of the 25-percent-by-2025 standard — unveiled Wednesday in Las Vegas at the nation's largest renewable energy conference — concluded that consumers across the country would benefit.

"There aren't winners and losers. All consumers would save, including those in the Southeast," said Alan Nogee, UCS' Clean Energy Program director. "Our analysis shows that ratepayers in the Southeast collectively would save more than $4.5 billion by 2025." 

The UCS analysis is the latest in a long line of studies conducted over the last decade — including several by the federal government — that found a federal renewable electricity standard is a cost-effective method to spur clean energy use and lower consumer utility bills. According to UCS' calculations, $24 billion of the $94 billion saved by 2030 would go to industrial electricity customers, while commercial and residential users would save more than $40 billion and $29 billion respectively.

Analyses by the federal government have come to similar conclusions. More than 20 economic analyses of national standard proposals over the last decade have found that a federal renewable electricity standard is achievable and affordable, despite the electric utility industry's claims to the contrary. For example, a 2007 Energy Information Administration (EIA) study, which used very pessimistic assumptions, found that consumers would save $2 billion on electricity and natural gas bills from 2009 to 2030 under the 25-percent-by-2025 standard.

In addition to saving energy consumers money, UCS' preliminary analysis indicates that, by 2025, the Markey-Platts standard would cut heat-trapping carbon dioxide emissions by 284 million metric tons, the equivalent of cutting pollution from 46.4 million cars"We all know we need to transform our energy system into a cleaner, more reliable one," said Marchant Wentworth, a Washington representative with the UCS Clean Energy Program. "This new analysis shows we can move toward a clean energy future and save people money. It's not an either-or proposition."

The Union of Concerned Scientists is the leading science-based nonprofit organization working for a healthy environment and a safer world. Founded in 1969, UCS is headquartered in Cambridge, Mass., and has offices in Berkeley, Calif., Chicago and Washington, D.C. For more information, visit the UCS website.

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