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In a series of recent briefs on the consumer costs of low-emissions futures, Synapse demonstrates that a Clean Energy Future scenario that exceeds the emissions targets of EPA’s Clean Power Plan can also lower electricity bills nationwide. The idea that investing heavily in clean energy and energy efficiency programs will save households money may be surprising to some, but in the third and final brief in the series, released today, Synapse discusses the logic behind why this is the case and why—if it’s so appealing—states haven’t already embarked on similar trajectories.

New federal environmental regulations call for substantial emissions reductions from U.S. power grids. For a system designed for fossil fuel resources, this will mean transforming the grid to accommodate large increases in renewable energy resources. Opponents of such regulations claim that the integration of these resources will impose high costs on the system, in particular those related to maintaining reliability standards. A new Synapse study finds that these claims are overblown, and that the costs to integrate increased amounts of wind and solar energy are minimal. Actual costs found by integration studies across the country are on the order of half a cent per kilowatt-hour of energy the resource produces, according to the Synapse literature review.

EPA’s final Clean Power Plan differs from the version proposed last year in several non-trivial ways. In fact, the basic framework of the rule—the way in which the EPA sets states’ targets for emissions reductions and the options for meeting those targets—has changed. As part of our ongoing series of webinars on the final Clean Power Plan, Synapse will present a webinar next Tuesday that drills into the details of EPA’s new method for calculating states’ targets and the differences between the seven compliance pathways (of which there were two in the proposed rule).

A key benefit of renewable energy is that electricity generated from new renewable resources displaces electricity generated from other types of power plants. In doing so, renewables reduce the consumption of fossil fuel and production of fossil fuel-related carbon dioxide emissions. In the Clean Power Plan originally proposed by EPA in June 2014, this effect was ignored when setting emissions targets for states: EPA’s formula omitted this effect. In the final version of the rule, released Monday, states’ targets do account for emissions displaced by renewable generation.

Investing in high levels of clean energy and widespread energy efficiency programs can save money for a majority of households in each of the contiguous states, according to a Synapse modeling study released today. The analysis, part of a series of briefs on the impacts of EPA’s proposed Clean Power Plan on consumers, shows that households participating in state-sponsored efficiency programs can save an average of $35 on their monthly bills in 2030. Even non-participants will save money in 16 states.