When Scott Pruitt, the head of the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA), began the process of repealing the Clean Power Plan, environmentalists from across the country decried the move. But there’s another reason to oppose the administration’s short-sighted actions to kill the plan: It offered the best opportunity to maximize investment in energy efficiency and cut power bills.
The Clean Power Plan, which was announced under the previous administration in 2015, aimed to cut carbon pollution from power plants by 32 percent. At the time, CUB Executive Director David Kolata said that even if Climate Change were not part of the debate, the plan included the steps the country had to take to help consumers get more control of their power bills.
That’s because the cleanest, cheapest kilowatt-hour is the one you never use. One of the most effective ways to cut carbon pollution (and reduce power bills) is to boost energy efficiency. In fact, supporters of the Clean Power Plan estimated it would have saved the average American family nearly $85 on their annual energy bill in 2030—cutting enough energy waste to power 30 million homes.
“The Clean Power Plan would have led to increased investment in energy efficiency that reduces our electric bills and helps to create a more reliable power grid,” Kolata said in a statement. “It also would have sparked energy innovation, advancing new money-saving technologies in key areas such as efficiency and storage. Rolling back the Clean Power Plan is a step backward for all consumers.”
The EPA has promised to come up with a new plan—but critics worry the administration will drag its feet for years (and powerful interests are fighting against efficiency). Thankfully, Illinois has passed the Future Energy Jobs Act, which calls the state’s two biggest utilities to boost spending on energy efficiency programs, a move expected to reduce power bills by billions of dollars. That will help Illinois meet the goals of the Clean Power Plan, even after the plan’s demise.
That’s good news for Illinois, but in order for energy efficiency to be most effective, the federal government and the rest of the country need to be on board. That’s going to be an uphill battle with the administration’s move to kill the Clean Power Plan.
But battles are worth fighting—especially when their uphill.