The cost of programs designed to save energy works out to 4.4 cents per kilowatt hour, less than half of what power from a conventional coal-burning plant costs, according to an analysis from the Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory.
The authors of the report, released in mid-November, collected energy efficiency information from more than 100 program administrators in 34 states, covering 5,900 “program years” between 2009 and 2013. They looked at a number of residential efficiency programs, including programs that subsidize whole-house retrofits, lighting improvements, appliance swaps, and efficiency measures for electronic devices.
Overall, the authors found that the cost of saved energy (CSE) was 4.4 cents/kWh, with residential programs having the lowest cost (3 cents/ kWh); commercial, industrial and agriculture programs followed at 5.6 cents/kWh.
This compares with the 9.5 cents/kWh for producing electricity in a conventional coal plant, Merrian Burgeon writes in a blog for the Natural Resources Defense Council.
“This means that smarter uses of energy can replace dirty coal at a fraction of the cost of building coal plants to generate electricity (and without polluting our air or exacerbating climate disruption),” she says.
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Excellent article, Scott. Thank you. A small correction: you reference the "National Resources Defense Council" but that fine group is the Natural Resources Defense Council, http://www.nrdc.org. The overall point of the article, that efficiency is cheaper, faster, and easier than installing new generating capacity, is vitally important for policy-makers and the public to understand. Thanks again!
Response to David Foley
Thanks for catching the typo. It's been fixed.
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