Study: Efficiency Can Offset Two Decades of Energy Demand Growth in South
Aggressive adoption of energy efficiency measures in the Southern portion of the U.S. would create hundreds of thousands of jobs, lower utility bills, conserve many natural resources and offset the amount of expected growth in energy demand over the next two decades, according to a new study released today by researchers at the Georgia Institute of Technology and Duke University’s Nicholas Institute.
Although only 36 percent of the country’s population resides in the South, they consume a considerably larger share of energy per capita compared to the rest of the U.S.
The region “consumes 43% of the nation’s electric power, 40% of the energy consumed in residences, and 38% of the energy used in commercial buildings,” the report found.
The study listed the following reasons why the South is so much more energy consuming than the rest of the nation:
- the region’s historically low electricity rates,
- significant heating and cooling loads that characterize many southern states,
- relatively weak energy conservation ethic (based on public opinion polls),
- below average expenditures on energy-efficiency programs.
“An aggressive commitment to energy efficiency could be an economic windfall for the South,” according to the co-lead researcher of the study, Dr. Marilyn Brown of the Georgia Institute of Technology. “Such a shift would lower energy bills for cash-strapped consumers and businesses and create more new jobs for Southern workers.”
By committing itself to improving its energy efficiency in the industrial, commercial and residential sectors, the South’s economy would stand to create 380,000 new jobs while lowering utility bills by more than $40 billion. In addition, the projected jump in the region’s energy demand of 13% within the next 20 years according to estimates released by the Energy Information Administration, would be offset by implementing policies requiring higher efficiency standards.
Improved energy efficiency policies include revamped appliance standards and building codes, as well as creating incentives to retrofit energy-guzzling buildings.
Among the three energy demand sectors in the American South, the potential for improved energy efficiency is greatest in the commercial building sector in terms of percent energy reductions, while the industrial sector has the largest absolute energy saving, according to the study.
“In addition,” the report concluded, “it is estimated that 49 GW of new power plant capacity would not need to be built in the South, if aggressive Energy-Efficiency Policies were implemented instead. At the same time, Energy-Efficiency Policies could conserve 90 billion gallons of water that would otherwise be consumed in processes related to energy generation, in the year 2030.”
The full report can be viewed here.