A recently released Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) report quantifies public health benefits from improved air quality achieved using energy efficiency and renewable energy technologies.
The analysis, Public Health Benefits per kWh of Energy Efficiency and Renewable Energy in the United States, developed a benefits-per-kilowatt-hour estimate for different regions of the country.
The EPA learned in many regions across the country that energy efficiency delivers more public health benefits than merely replacing one generation technology with another.
EPA found that displacing baseload power with energy efficiency creates greater benefits in many regions than efficiency measures targeted at peak load reduction because “peaking units are generally natural gas units that can ramp up and down quickly compared to baseload coal or nuclear units that typically operate 24 hours a day.”
“What this report confirms is that energy efficiency is saving much more than just dollars and cents on your utility bill,” Alliance to Save Energy President Jason Hartke said. “It’s giving us cleaner air and improved health, and that is delivering huge economic benefits. Too often we are not taking those benefits into account when making decisions, particularly in Washington. This is exactly the kind of information policy-makers need to make better decisions that fully account for the many co-benefits of efficiency.”
Hartke said when viewing the full picture, it is clear there should be greater investment in energy efficiency at the state, local, and federal levels.
EPA calculations were based on reduced mortality from key pollutants – specifically sulfur dioxide (SO2), nitrogen oxides (NOx) and fine particulate matter (PM2.5). Displacing baseload power with energy efficiency creates greater benefits in many regions than efficiency measures targeted at peak load reduction.