CEPL Blog

  • Economic Case for Energy Efficiency

    Posting Date: Fri, April 7, 2017

    Marilyn Brown, a professor in the School of Public Policy at Georgia Tech, 2007 co-recipient of the Nobel Prize, and co-founder of the Southeast Energy Efficiency Alliance, made a strong case for the value of efficiency projects during her presentation “Selling Energy Efficiency in a Climate-Conscious World”. Her discussion highlighted the importance of educating consumers, businesses, and politicians about practical policy solutions that drive increased adoption of energy efficiency projects. Continue reading Mark Jacobson's article here: https://www.scheller.gatech.edu/centers-initiatives/ray-c-anderson-center-for-sustainable-business/blog/posts/2-20-2017-Economic-case-for-energy-efficiency.html
  • When gas prices are low, we should "double down" on fuel economy – not "dial back"

    Posting Date: Thu, March 16, 2017

    In Michigan this week, President Trump called for a re-evaluation of the fuel economy regulations set by the Obama administration. These standards require automakers to increase the average fuel economy of new cars and trucks to 54.5 miles per gallon by 2025.  http://www.npr.org/sections/thetwo-way/2017/03/15/519037545/epa-reopens-u-s-rules-setting-vehicle-efficiency-standards-for-2025   EPA Reopens U.S. Rules Setting Vehicle Efficiency Standards For 2025 www.npr.org U.S. automakers may not have to reach fuel efficiency standards that were set during the Obama administration, which had set a target of 54.5 miles per gallon for the 2025 model year. The above NPR article provides a balanced and detailed description of the range of possibilities. As the NPR reporter says, "Changing the standards isn't expected to be a simple process...an agreement usually includes the EPA, the Department of …
  • Georgia Tech Panel: wind, solar and other clean energy sources could supply all of our power

    Posting Date: Fri, August 19, 2016

    Atlanta, GA—Wind, solar, and other renewable energy sources now make up just about 13 percent of the nation’s electricity supply, but transitioning to 100 percent clean energy in the South is both necessary and feasible, academic experts and clean energy advocates said at a lunch panel held at Georgia Tech on Wednesday.   “We can and we must transition to 100% clean renewable energy,” said Jennette Gayer, director of Environment Georgia. “Nationally and globally the move to 100% renewable is taking off with major businesses like Google and cities like San Diego setting 100% goals but this is the first 100% renewables discussion in Georgia.” Gayer and Dr. Marilyn Brown a Georgia Tech Brook Byers public policy professor co-hosted the event and were joined on the panel by Dr. Bert Bras a Brook Byers mechanical engineering professor and Anthony Coker a Georgia Tech Chemical Engineer and Vice President of Utility Market Development with Hannah Solar. “The …
  • New GA Tech Study Concludes that Clean Power Plan Could Deliver Significant Energy Bill Savings to Cities and Businesses Nationwide

    Posting Date: Tue, August 2, 2016

    ATLANTA, GA – City skylines have long been a symbol of innovation and prosperity. What you can’t see is that these same buildings are some of the United States’ largest energy consumers and are therefore responsible for significant amounts of the nation’s carbon pollution.  However, a new study by Dr. Marilyn Brown and the Georgia Institute of Technology has found that by implementing the Obama Administration’s Clean Power Plan, which was finalized one year ago today, commercial building owners and occupants in the United States could realize total annual electricity savings of $11.3 billion in 2030, a reduction of 6.7% compared to doing nothing at all. “What this study reveals is that cities, and the commercial buildings that comprise them, hold a key to both lower carbon pollution as well as lower bills for commercial electricity consumers if states embrace energy efficiency and clean energy investments associated with state implementation of the Clean Power …
  • Clean Power Will Cut Our Electricity Bills

    Posting Date: Tue, June 28, 2016

    Without any changes in the way we produce and use electricity, Georgia households can expect an 8.4 percent increase in electricity bills over the next 15 years, while the typical U.S. household will see bills increase by 18 percent. But a new report has found that implementing the Obama Administration’s Clean Power Plan will cut costs. The average Georgia household would save $2,070 in electricity costs over the same period, while U.S. households could see an average savings of $1,868, said Marilyn Brown, the study’s author and the Brook Byers Professor of Sustainable Systems in the School of Public Policy at the Georgia Institute of Technology. Continue reading the Georgia Tech Amplifier "Clean Power Will Cut Our Electricity Bills"
  • A Big Step Toward Clean Energy in the South

    Posting Date: Wed, June 8, 2016

    This past weekend, licensed reactor operators at the Tennessee Valley Authority safely connected a new source of nuclear power to its electric system. It is an historic moment for the nuclear industry because it is the first new U.S. nuclear generation of the 21st century.  Marilyn Brown, the Brook Byers Professor of Sustainable Systems in the School of Public Policy at the Georgia Institute of Technology, chairs the TVA Nuclear Oversight Committee. She explains  the importance of this achievement. A new source of nuclear power is coming from the Tennessee Valley Authority Watts Bar reactor Unit 2, which is located 50 miles north of Chattanooga, Tenn. When the reactors safely connected to the electric system this weekend, nuclear-powered electricity from the new unit was delivered for the first time to TVA customers.  These customers are families, businesses and industries …
  • Calm Down – The Supreme Court’s “Stay” on the Clean Power Plan is Just a Procedural Step

    Posting Date: Wed, February 10, 2016

    On February 9th, 2016, the U.S. Supreme Court placed a “stay” on implementing the Clean Power Plan, the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency’s regulation of carbon dioxide emissions from U.S. power plants. With a 5-to-4 vote, the Court has put a halt to the regulation while its legal fate is being decided. The request for a stay came from a coalition of 27 states, led by West Virginia and including most of the states in the South. The claim is that the regulation is overly far-reaching and burdensome.  The coalition’s request for a “stay” did not dispute the Regulatory Impact Assessment of the Clean Power Plan, which showed that the benefits of the regulation far exceed the costs. There would be costs – a clean grid will require decommissioning the oldest, inefficient coal plants and removing their coal ash ponds as well as constructing cleaner power systems and deploying low-cost energy efficiency. But the benefits are much greater – including reduced …
  • Watch out for Political Fallout from the Paris Climate Accord

    Posting Date: Mon, December 14, 2015

    In 1992, President George H. W. Bush signed the U.N. Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC) along with leaders of 194 other countries. The treaty’s objective was to “Stabilize greenhouse gas concentrations in the atmosphere at a level that would prevent dangerous anthropogenic interference with the climate system.” Few knew that at that time, dangerous interference was well already underway. Over the last 23 years, climate scientists have examined vast quantities of data covering multiple lines of evidence including surface and atmospheric temperatures, concentrations of climate pollution, heat waves and floods, ice sheets and glaciers, and the condition of forests and reefs. The consensus conclusion is that global warming is unequivocal, and a majority of the warming is due to human interference. I have contributed to two of the five sets of UNFCCC reports that have been published since 1992. This past week, the Obama administration negotiated the first global …
  • Progress in Energy and Carbon Management in Large U.S. Metropolitan Areas

    Posting Date: Wed, November 25, 2015

    Using "bubble charts," Figures 1 and 2 highlight the trajectory of four cities, from 2001 to 2010. The backdrop of bubbles are the 2010 energy and carbon dioxide footprints of all 100 metro areas in the U.S. Over that decade, Houston had the largest increase in its buildings energy footprints, and Durham experienced the greatest improvement. When carbon footprints are graphed, the patterns change reflecting the carbon intensity of the electricity consumed in urban areas. Orlando experienced the largest increase in its buildings carbon footprints, while Philadelphia saw the greatest improvement.These graphs reflect the  importance of local action and partnerships with electric utilities, which are highlighted in greater detail in our Applied Energy paper on "Progress in Energy and Carbon Management in Large U.S. Metropolitan Areas." Energy Procedia, Volume 75, 2015, Pages 2957-2962.
  • Public Comment on EPA’s Federal Plan and Model Rule

    Posting Date: Fri, November 20, 2015

    By Marilyn A. Brown, Brook Byers Professor of Sustainable Systems, School of Public Policy, Georgia Institute of Technology November 19, 2015 Background The U.S. fleet of fossil fuel fired power plants is our nation’s single largest source of climate-destabilizing pollution and one of the largest sources in the world.  Climate change presents a clear and present danger to human health and the environment. All Americans need to be protected from the serious adverse impacts of climate pollution, in whichever state they live. The Clean Power Plan will save thousands lives each year, prevent tens of thousands of asthma attacks annually, and help ensure hundreds of thousands of Americans do not miss work and school due to harmful air pollution. The monetary value of these public health and climate benefits is in the billions. Thank you, EPA for finalizing carbon pollution limits that: give States the …
  • Getting Past Rate Fixation to the Benefits of the Clean Power Plan

    Posting Date: Wed, July 1, 2015

    Making use of energy efficiency can help contain the cost of complying with the EPA’s Clean Power Plan and reduce electricity bills. Yet as climate policy discussions try to balance the urgent demand for quick action with upfront capital investments, energy efficiency isn’t without its skeptics. As efficiency programs are being ramped up by utilities with an over-capacity of power plants, rates may also rise for a few years before they fall. Policymakers and stakeholders need to get past “rate fixation” to see the long-term value of energy efficiency. With the strong “nudge” of the Clean Power Plan, we have an opportunity to cut future electricity costs while addressing climate change. The Clean Power Plan allows states to implement their goals through “building blocks”, including energy efficiency. By placing a value on reducing the CO2 intensity of electricity, more energy efficiency measures become cost-competitive. Policy discussions increasingly suggest the need …
  • Low-Carbon Electricity Pathways for the U.S. and the South

    Posting Date: Fri, May 22, 2015

    CEPL has just released a Georgia Tech report on the Clean Power Plan.
  • Cutting Costs and Pollution by Benchmarking Buildings

    Posting Date: Tue, December 9, 2014

    Atlanta’s skyline has long been a symbol of innovation and prosperity. What you can’t see is that these same buildings are some of the city’s largest energy consumers and polluters. The city is proposing a benchmarking ordinance that will help change this energy and environmental profile. Read more.
  • Cutting Carbon Pollution by Using Less Electricity

    Posting Date: Mon, June 2, 2014

    "The new EPA carbon pollution limits will not only accelerate the retirement of the nation's oldest coal plants, but will also also encourage states and power producers to help consumers use less electricity. This flexibility is very important in the South, where the efficient use of energy has been a struggle."
  • TVA Carbon Reduction Success Story

    Posting Date: Mon, June 2, 2014

    "In 2013, TVA met the Administration's 30% carbon reduction goal. Other utilities in the South can surely do the same by 2030."
  • Response to Dr Zycher at Our Energy Policy

    Posting Date: Thu, November 7, 2013

    Recently, Dr. Benjamin Zycher wrote a piece for Our Energy Policy, detailing reasons why he believes that the US government's Social Cost of Carbon (SCC) is not advisable or useful for policy analysis. He argues that US CO2 emissions are a small piece of total global emissions, that the SCC violates OMB guidelines, and that the government is not an impartial or disinterested actor. For these reasons, he advocates for congressional approval in using the SCC and any regulation of greenhouse gases. CEPL director Marilyn Brown and CEPL student Matt Cox, along with former CEPL co-director Paul Baer, respond with this comment. Dr. Zycher does not deny that climate change is occurring, that humans are principally responsible and that it is bad for the planet. Yet he recommends unilateral inaction by the U.S. He is correct that US emissions are only about 1/6 of total emissions right now, but it is worth noting that the U.S. is responsible for roughly 27% of the CO2 in the atmosphere …
  • Gender and other social demographics: Can they explain attitudes towards energy security?

    Posting Date: Wed, April 3, 2013

    By Marilyn Brown, Georgia Institute of Technology Working with colleagues at Georgia Tech and the Vermont Law School and with support from a MacArthur Foundation grant, I had the opportunity to help design and evaluate a survey about energy security that was completed by more than 2,000 individuals from 10 countries. The survey measured individuals’ concerns regarding specific dimensions of energy security, including resource availability, energy affordability, climate, and equity.  Our results identified perspectives on energy security that aligned strikingly with several socio-demographic attributes. Specifically, we found that women and individuals with lower levels of education and income express greater concern for virtually all facets of energy security, and found them more important than male respondents. This is not surprising because these same individuals (women, low-income individuals, and the less educated) tend to be more vulnerable to high energy costs and …
  • Will the Bonanza of Cheap Natural Gas Postpone the Transition to a Clean Energy Future?

    Posting Date: Wed, March 27, 2013

    By Marilyn Brown, Georgia Institute of Technology Thanks to breakthroughs in seismic imaging, horizontal drilling and hydraulic fracturing, the US in 2012 reduced its reliance on much dirtier coal by shifting to gas-fired power plants. This trend is expected to continue, spurred by low gas prices and increased regulation on coal. The move to shale gas is being heralded as a key to economic prosperity and a clean energy future. But there are other options for displacing baseload electricity from retired coal plants, the principals being nuclear, renewables and energy efficiency. Will the gas bonanza enable or postpone the transition to these cleaner options? While natural gas produces half the CO2 emissions of coal and emits relatively smaller amounts of nitrogen oxides, it is more polluting than nuclear power, which provides nearly carbon-free energy, and it is more polluting than most renewables as well as the cleanest source-- energy efficiency. A glut of cheap gas could shelve …