EIA Analysis Shows EPA Power Plant Rules Affordable, Renewables Make Big Contribution

Statement by Steve Clemmer, director of energy research and analysis

Published May 22, 2015

WASHINGTON (May 22, 2015)—The U.S. Energy Information Administration (EIA) released a report today on the Environmental Protection Agency’s Clean Power Plan.

Below is a statement by Steve Clemmer, director of energy research and analysis at the Union of Concerned Scientists.

“Early headlines about the EIA’s report on the Clean Power Plan don’t tell the whole story. The analysis actually shows that the Clean Power Plan is affordable. The increase in natural gas use in early years followed by a big shift to less polluting renewable energy enables the country to continue the transition away from coal. By 2030, EIA estimated that non-hydro renewable energy sources such as wind and solar power will provide 19 percent of the country’s electricity generation. That’s more than twice as high than what EPA projected and more than triple today’s levels.

“A closer look at EIA’s analysis shows that the overall electricity price impacts from the rule are modest and prices will come down significantly as the shift to renewables takes hold, with some regional variation. In fact, by 2040, electricity bills nationwide will be lower. However, EIA noted that if states shift to renewables sooner, it could keep electricity prices down even more earlier on. EIA also greatly underestimated the potential for energy efficiency to further displace natural gas and lower consumer energy bills. 

“States can keep rate increases to a minimum and help avoid an over reliance on natural gas by implementing or strengthening policies to ramp up renewables and efficiency, including proven policies such as renewable electricity standards, energy efficiency standards, and carbon caps. EIA’s analysis also showed that regional collaboration would result in more renewable energy and lower costs of compliance. Congress can help by passing a multi-year extension of federal tax credits to allow renewables to continue its recent momentum and drive down costs even further. Luckily, doing these things would mean we tackle climate change faster too.

“EIA also showed that EPA could adopt stronger emission reduction targets for the states. The analysis found that the U.S. could achieve carbon reductions of at least 36 percent below 2005 levels by 2030.  These levels could be even higher if the EPA included a stronger role for energy efficiency and renewable energy as projected in recent studies by UCS and DOE.”