The American Council for an Energy-Efficient Economy (ACEEE) has said energy efficiency can help the US state of North Carolina save $5.9 billion in electricity costs over the next two decades.
Amid the public health crisis due to COVID-19, North Carolina faces the prospect of a continued recession. Many residents struggle to pay energy bills. Households in the state are behind payment on more than 1.3 million electric, gas, and water utility accounts and are at high risks of having services disconnected.
A new report released by ACEEE highlights how the state can leverage energy efficiency to cut its growing electricity needs by nearly one-fifth by 2040.
North Carolina has set a target to reduce its greenhouse gas emissions from the electric power sector by 70% (from 2005 levels) by 2030.
The ACEEE report finds that new and expanded energy efficiency efforts can contribute at least 11% of the needed reductions to achieve the state’s goal.
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The recommendations include North Carolina policy makers:
- Establishing minimum energy savings targets for utility programmes that help customers improve efficiency, including a requirement that at least one-fifth of the energy savings benefit low- and moderate-income customers.
- Removing barriers to adoption of high-efficiency heat pumps for air and water heating and other uses.
- Removing barriers to industrial facilities’ participation in utility-sponsored energy efficiency programs.
- Expanding efforts for communities traditionally underserved by energy efficiency programs, including rural, low-income, and renter families, and agricultural and small businesses.
- Establishing commercial property-assessed clean energy (C-PACE), on-bill lending programs, and a statewide nonprofit clean energy fund to support a robust private market for energy efficiency improvements.
- Closing loopholes in building energy codes, transition to more-ambitious codes in the coming years, and support code compliance.
Rachel Gold, report co-author and utilities program director at ACEEE, said: “When you get people to work weatherizing homes and retrofitting buildings, it saves folks money on energy bills and cuts greenhouse gas emissions and other air pollution.
“The choices policymakers make now are going to determine North Carolinians’ energy costs and the air they breathe for decades ahead. The state can build on its energy efficiency progress and move aggressively to bolster the economy and create jobs while safeguarding public health.”
Read the report.