New England states have the potential to increase gross state product (GSP) by $54.6 billion and create thousands of jobs in the region by adopting cost-effective energy efficiency policies, according to a new report by Northeast Energy Efficiency Partnerships (NEEP).

From Potential to Action: How New England Can Save Energy, Cut Costs, and Create a Brighter Future with Energy Efficiency, highlights the economic potential of energy efficiency that can be captured for less than the cost of generating and delivering new electricity from power plants.

“Energy Efficiency is a no-brainer for saving money while continuing to meet the region’s energy demands,” says Sue Coakley, Executive Director of NEEP. “It’s the most cost effective investment, with every dollar invested in efficiency giving back about $2.60 to New Englanders. Those are real savings that stay in the region to be reinvested in local economies.”

Not only can energy efficiency investments return over double the initial cost, researchers also point out that it is the cheapest way to meet the regions energy needs. The average cost of efficiency in New England is about 4 cents per kilowatt-hour (kWh), while the total cost of new generation and transmission averages about 12 cents per kWh. These numbers demonstrate that efficiency costs about a third as much as new supply.

“New England is essentially sitting on a giant reservoir of energy efficiency resources that have only begun to be tapped,” says Seth Kaplan, Vice President for Policy and Climate Advocacy at Conservation Law Foundation. “We cannot afford to ignore this resource and the billions of dollars of wealth and hundreds of thousands of jobs we can reap by embracing this clean alternative – fully embracing energy efficiency is good for our environment, the budgets of our families and our economy.”

From Potential to Action demonstrates the realistic potential of energy efficiency to reduce our need for electricity. It describes a set of steps that states can take to move from policy ideas to real savings for families and businesses. It also identifies sectors and end-uses in each state where the greatest reserves of efficiency lie, and it estimates the total economic and environmental benefits of maximizing the efficiency potential.

Economic Impacts

• Achieving the level of efficiency savings identified in this report would ultimately increase gross state product (GSP) by $54.6 billion and increase employment by 421,906 job years throughout the region.
• It would result in positive net societal benefits of $19.6 billion.
• It would be like taking 4 million homes off the electric grid for one year – about equal to the number of households in Connecticut, Massachusetts and Vermont combined.

Environmental Impacts

Reducing power generation by 31,800 GWh would:
• Cut CO2 emissions by nearly 80 million metric tons, equal to the annual emissions of 3 million passenger vehicles.
• Cut annual emissions of sulfur dioxides (SO2) and nitrogen oxide (NOx) by 8,500 and 5,000 metric tons in 2018, respectively.

“NEEP’s New England efficiency potential study will be a valuable resource for the region’s decision-makers” said Richard Sedano, Director of the Regulatory Assistance Project. “Tangible information sheds light on important conversations in all the states and will contribute to better discussions and better results. It contains the data and the rationale for how much farther we have to go with efficiency, and it presents a good set of tools for how states can move from potential to results.”

NEEP’s full report, “From Potential to Action: How New England Can Save Energy, Cut Costs, and Create a Brighter Future with Energy Efficiency,” an executive summary and technical details are available for free on NEEP’s website

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