A professor at Georgia Institute of Technology has weighed in on the debate over the Obama Administration’s Clean Power plan, claiming that it will cut energy costs at commercial buildings.
A new study by Marilyn Brown has concluded that implementing the Clean Power plan could save commercial building owners and occupants $11.3 billion a year on electricity bills by 2030 compared to doing nothing at all. That equates to a 6.7 percent savings on electricity.
In Missouri, the annual savings would amount to $109 million. The Clean Power plan could produce an additional $112 million savings on natural gas bills in Missouri, and save $3.6 billion on natural gas bills nationwide.
“What this study reveals is that cities, and the commercial buildings that comprise them, hold a key to both lower carbon pollution as well as lower bills for commercial electricity consumers if states embrace energy efficiency and clean energy investments associated with state implementation of the Clean Power Plan,” Brown said.
The savings are triggered in part by a new generation of air source heat pumps that replace less efficient units commonly seen on the rooftops of office buildings, schools, restaurants and big-box stores. These new technologies tackle one of the most rapidly growing energy uses in the United States – air conditioning.
Brown found huge negative consequences to doing nothing. Without any changes, the electricity bills of commercial building owners and occupants in the United States would rise by about 21.4% over the next 15 years.
The GIT study found that energy bill savings would be greatest for retail and office buildings. In the United States it is estimated that these building space owners would cut their electricity costs by $2.9 billion and $2 billion respectively in 2030, while at the same time cutting CO2 emissions significantly.
“Occupants and owners of other building types, ranging from education to food and lodging, would also save significantly on their energy bills as states meet their Clean Power Plan goals,” said Dr. Brown. “Energy efficiency offers multiple benefits and these results illustrate how commercial building owners and occupants can gain from more efficient and more affordable air conditioning, lighting, electronics and other equipment, and from improved building shells as well as rooftop solar systems.”
The study examined the finalized August 2015 Clean Power Plan developed by the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency and the Obama Administration. The plan proposed an historic step aimed at reducing carbon pollution by implementing first ever federal limits on carbon pollution from existing power plants. The Clean Power Plan establishes carbon pollution goals for each state, and is projected to achieve a 32 percent cut in U.S. carbon pollution from power plants by 2030 compared with 2005.
EPA projects that the Clean Power Plan will help avoid up to 6,600 premature deaths, up to 150,000 asthma attacks in children, and up to 490,000 missed work and school days annually by 2030. The reduction of carbon pollution in our air will also prevent thousands of heart attacks and hospital admissions every year.
Separately, an analysis by the Natural Resources Defense Council, investor-owned utilities in California, and electronics power management firm Aggios, found that electricity use by computers can be cut in half at negligible cost. Computers are a major consumer of electricity in office buildings.
According to the study, roughly 300 million computers in the U.S. spend from 50 to 77 percent of their time “on but inactive” and devour $10 billion a year worth of electricity, the equivalent of 30-large power plants spewing 65 million metric tons of carbon dioxide pollution that contributes to climate change. (The study can be found at https://www.nrdc.org/resources/slashing-energy-use-computers-and-monitors-while-protecting-our-wallets-health-and-planet.
The trio of organizations developed a demonstration prototype computer, and found some efficiency improvements would cost manufacturers “only pennies per computer,” according to the report.