The Clean Power Plan released by the EPA recently can help make American businesses more efficient, competitive, and innovative. The plan will improve public health and the environment, but it can also strengthen our economy.
The Clean Power Plan proposes carbon standards for existing fossil fuel generators and aims to reduce carbon emissions from the power sector by 30 percent nationally below 2005 levels. These new standards will give businesses the certainty needed to invest in creating new approaches and technologies that will improve access to cleaner forms of power while also helping people and business owners become more energy efficient.
Demand-side management programs are the most cost-effective way for states and regional groups to meet the Clean Power Plan’s compliance goals. These programs encourage utility customers to be more energy efficient by providing technical assistance and financial incentives to make energy efficiency improvements at their homes and businesses.
Energy efficiency improvements lead to lower energy bills for customers and create jobs for contractors, installers, and manufacturers. Indeed, twenty-five states already have the necessary infrastructure in place to establish these programs and many utilities currently offer demand-side management programs to their customers.
The EPA has now entered a yearlong process of taking public comment and working with states to refine and improve the proposal prior to finalizing the rule in June of 2015. When finalized, and in order to comply, every state must develop a specific implementation plan that describes how carbon reductions will be realized.
Although there is no clear consensus of what the final rule will look like, business leaders should recognize the incredible potential that the Clean Power Plan has to transform the US economy. A key element of EPA’s proposal is flexibility – flexibility for states to work individually or in regional groups to meet compliance goals and flexibility in the means that compliance goals are met. If embraced by leaders, this flexibility can reduce the cost of doing business and create opportunities for new business through energy efficiency and innovation.
According to EPA, the public health and climate benefits associated with the Clean Power Plan are “worth an estimated $55 billion to $93 billion per year in 2030, far outweighing the costs of $7.3 billion to $8.8 billion.” The EPA’s proposal is an opportunity for leadership. Government officials, businesses, and stakeholders should embrace this proposal and work closely to get it done right for all of us to realize it’s far-reaching benefits.