Six states could save $20bn by closing coal plants, increasing energy efficiency

A study finds that six western and southwestern states could save $20 billion and reduce electricity use by 21 percent by 2020 if utilities implemented more energy efficiency programs.

The study by the Southwest Energy Efficiency Project said that with an investment of $17.3 billion in Best Practice energy efficiency programs, the region could realize $37.1 billion in utility system and public health benefits by 2020. In addition, the report said an estimated 10,000 jobs would be added in the region by 2015 and 28,000 jobs would be added by 2020.

Utilities would need to close between 1,911 MW and 4,407 MW of coal-fired generating capacity by 2020 and provide subsidized audits and technology for ratepayers. For residents, it would require improving insulation, seal cracks and replacing heaters and coolers.

The study also found that increasing energy efficiency would avoid or close 32 power plants, reduce carbon dioxide emissions by nearly 32 million metric tons and save 18.5 billion gallons of water per year through less power plant operation. Analysts pushed for more solar and wind projects to replace the lost coal-fired generation instead of building more natural gas-fired power plants.

To read the full report, click here.

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