On Tuesday, March 9th the Ochs Center for Metropolitan Studies out of Chattanooga, TN released a report entitled, “Energy Efficiency as an Alternative Strategy for the Power4Georgians EMC“. The report identifies how the Electric Membership Corporations (EMCs) investing in the Plant Washington coal facility would benefit their local communities by investing in energy efficiency instead.
According to the report press release, “the report determines that if the funding for Plant Washington was instead invested in energy efficiency programs, the 43 counties represented by these EMCs could see a $3.1 billion economic boost along with thousands of new jobs created over a 14-year period”.
Cost of Energy Efficiency
If implemented, all of the energy efficiency programs outlined in this report could result in 548MW of peak load reduction for the Power4Georgian EMCs at a cost of 6 cents per kilowatt-hour. In contrast, the range of cost outlined in a Synapse Energy Economics report on Plant Washington suggests that building Plant Washington – 850MW of new coal capacity – could cost anywhere in the range of 7.5 cents per kilowatt-hour to as high as 13.7 cents per kilowatt-hour depending on climate legislation. These cost ranges and the risks associated with building coal are significantly higher than investing in various energy efficiency measures.
How much of this power do they really need? The EMCs have not confirmed if the plant would operate at full 850MW capacity, how much of the energy is in fact needed by the Power4Georgians EMCs, or how much would be sold to other utilities in or outside of Georgia. The 548MWs of peak load reduction would be specific to these EMC territories.
Below is a graph, which breaks down how many jobs and dollars would be generated in each of the EMC territories if they chose to invest their money in energy efficiency rather than the new Plant Washington coal plant.
The jobs produced from energy efficiency programs would do a great deal more to benefit the EMC territories than the jobs created from Plant Washington.
According to the Power4Georgians website,
“The construction phase will last about four years and will require over 1,500 construction jobs at peak from many different job classifications”.
In addition, it has been estimated that 128 permanent jobs will be established upon completion of the plant. In contrast, the Ochs report estimates that by investing in energy efficiency programs, 17,384 job years will be created across multiple counties in Georgia over a 14-year period. The jobs created by energy efficiency programs will not only have an effect on more counties in Georgia but they will result in more job hours for Georgia citizens.
Making Energy Efficiency Work
In order for the EMCs to use energy efficiency as a means of supply, there are a number of programs at the residential, commercial and industrial scale which will need to be implemented. For residents some of these programs include duct envelope sealing, R-30 and R-13 attic insulation, radiant barrier in attic, CFL light bulb switch, R-5 water heater jacket, energy star rebate appliance investment, and A/C heat pump tune up programs. The EMCs can help make sure that these strategies are being implemented in homes across their territory by offering energy audits, rebate programs and general education among many other avenues. The EMCs can also use the same strategies to help commercial and industrial consumers implement energy efficiency programs such as efficiency lighting plans, demand response, and air conditioning tune ups to name a few.
By implementing these strategies, all of which have been outlined in the Ochs report, the EMCs can save money and in turn help out the local communities they serve. When comparing the two options, it is clear that energy efficiency wins over Plant Washington in helping improve Georgia’s economy and support our clean energy future.