Report Shows Major Economic Benefit from Energy Efficiency Implementation in the South

A report entitled “Energy Efficiency in the South” was released yesterday by the Southeast Energy Efficiency Alliance; it reflects an in-depth modeling effort to demonstrate the potential impact of energy efficiency policies for residential and commercial buildings and industries throughout the Southern states.

The report stresses four major findings:

  • Aggressive energy-efficiency initiatives in the region could stop energy consumption in the RCI sectors from growing over the next twenty years.
  • A commitment to energy efficiency means fewer new power plants would be needed.
  • Increased investments in cost-effective energy efficiency would generate jobs and cut utility bills.
  • Energy efficiency would result in significant water savings.

Specifically, the report states that “In 2020, energy bills in the South would be reduced by $41 billion, electricity rate increases would be moderated, 380,000 new jobs would be created, and the region’s economy would grow by $1.23 billion” if the investments in cost-effective energy efficiency modeled in the study were implemented in states throughout the region.

The importance of the South—defined by the U.S. Census Bureau to be the 16-state (and District of Columbia) region from Delaware down the Appalachians, including the Southern Atlantic seaboard, Gulf Coast and Texas—is stressed throughout the report, given that the South is the “largest and fastest growing region in the United States, with 36% of the nation’s population and a considerably larger share of the nation’s total energy consumption (44%) and supply (48%)”.

The vast majority of the region’s energy comes from fossil fuels.

Furthermore, the South consumes 51% of the nation’s total industrial energy use, 43% of the nation’s electric power, 40% of the energy consumed in residences and 38% of the energy used in commercial buildings. This demonstrates the substantial opportunity for the region and the nation that comes from increasing energy efficiency efforts in the South.

Possible reasons for this highly-consumptive pattern of energy use, according to report authors, include the region’s historically low electricity rates, significant heating and cooling loads due to weather, low implementation of energy-efficient products and low expenditures on energy-efficiency programs.

In addition to a full report detailing results of modeling impacts for the region, SEEA and the report authors include a state-specific profile for each state in the region.

Kristin Tracz

About Kristin Tracz

Kristin Tracz served MACED’s Research and Policy team from 2009-2012 working on clean energy policy, energy efficiency programs and the Appalachian Transition Initiative. She joined MACED after finishing her Master of Environmental Management degree at the Yale School of Forestry & Environmental Studies. She now lives and works in Washington, DC.