Accounting for Renewable Electricity Saved by Efficiency

How much does it matter if energy efficiency programs like ENERGY STAR or appliance energy standards save electricity generated by renewable resources like wind and solar, rather than from fossil fuel power plants? Certainly from the perspective of reducing carbon pollution, there’s a strong case that saving renewable electricity is not as valuable as saving energy generated from burning fossil fuels. As the role of renewable electricity in the nation’s electricity supply grows, this question will become increasingly important to think through.

Recognizing this, the US Department of Energy (DOE) took a great step forward to update its thinking and approach, with a report released in October. NRDC joined with the American Public Power Association, Edison Electric Institute, and the National Rural Electric Cooperatives Association to request that DOE rethink these issues and also joined in commenting on DOE’s initial thoughts earlier this year. DOE’s efforts were further aided by thoughtful input from the natural gas industry, which also has great interest in getting the accounting right. The overall result at DOE shows that constructive, collaborative efforts can deliver real progress.

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