State and local policymakers, and others involved in energy generation, are not quantifying or fully reflecting the health benefits of efficiency and renewables projects during decision-making processes, according to a new report from the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA).
The report also noted that these policymakers and others have been asking for the EPA's assistance in understanding the opportunities for using energy efficiency and renewable energy to reduce air pollution and improve public health. "State and local decision-makers may not be fully aware of or confident in the available quantification tools and methods; or they lack the time, resources, or expertise needed to quantify the health benefits of renewables and efficiency," said the report.
The report, titled "Public Health Benefits per kWh or Energy Efficiency and Renewable Energy in the United States" is designed to help state and local policymakers and other interested parties quantify the benefits of improved air quality achieved using energy efficiency and renewable energy technologies.
It provides a "benefits per kilowatt hour" estimate for different regions of the nation. The calculations are based on reduced mortality rates from key pollutants, specifically sulfur dioxide, nitrogen oxides and fine particulate matter. In addition, the report provides values in four different areas: uniform energy efficiency, peak energy efficiency, solar energy and wind energy.
One organization actively encouraging policymakers and others to make use of the report is the Alliance to Save Energy (ASE). "What this report confirms is that energy efficiency is saving much more than just dollars and cents on your utility bill," said Jason Hartke, president of the ASE. "It's giving us cleaner air and improved health, and that is delivering huge economic benefits. Too often, we are not taking those benefits into account when making decisions, particularly in Washington. This is exactly the kind of information policy-makers need to make better decisions that fully account for the many co-benefits of efficiency. When you look at the full picture, it's painfully clear we should be investing a lot more in efficiency at the state, local, and federal levels."
The EPA encourages interested parties, including energy efficiency and renewable energy project developers, to download a free copy of the report.