Clean Power Plan could bring Texas billion-dollar benefits

Published 7:52 pm Saturday, August 6, 2016

By Mark Richardson

Texas News Service

HOUSTON – On the anniversary of finalizing the Environmental Protection Agency’s (EPA) Clean Power Plan, a new report said implementing that plan could save businesses billions of dollars a year. Commercial customers are responsible for nearly a third of all electricity-related carbon pollution nationwide.

According to Doctor Marilyn Brown, a professor at Georgia Tech’s School of Public Policy, implementing the Clean Power Plan could produce significant savings by 2030.

“Bills for electricity could be reduced by 6.7 percent if states were to include energy efficiency as a strong component of their compliance approach,” she said.

The report said nationally, that’s an estimated annual savings of $11.3 billion and more than $1 billion a year in Texas alone. It also said the Clean Power Plan emphasizes changing from high-pollution fuels such as coal to more efficient ways of generating power.

Ben Kalscheur, associate director of the Texas A&M University Office of Sustainability, said Texas has become a leader in developing renewable energy.

“Natural gas is something that is heavily utilized, but Texas is, I think, we have the most wind power in the country,” he said. “We’re the number one state for wind power, so there is a diversity of sources here.”

The report shows that if Texas adopts the Clean Power Plan, by 2030 the owners and occupants of office and retail buildings would see the largest reduction in their power bills. The report adds that schools, restaurants and hotels would also see significant reductions.

Some states are planning to build new power plants to meet growing needs. But Brown pointed out that by switching buildings to new heating and cooling systems and LED lighting, energy efficiency can reduce or eliminate the need to generate more power.

“It can meet energy service requirements with these more efficient products, and not lock in a next generation of high-priced power plants,” Dr. Brown added.

The U.S. Supreme Court has put enforcement of the Clean Power Plan on hold while it faces legal challenges from 24 states, including Texas.

The Obama administration finalized the Clean Power Plan one year ago, and as Mark Richardson reports, a new study finds that the plan could provide big benefits for businesses.