Using Affordable, Cleaner Energy -- through Efficiency and Electrification

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From this perspective, consumer desires for reliable, affordable, cleaner energy combine with expanded choice and control.  The pace of electrification accelerates as electricity use provides a cleaner energy alternative, while remaining affordable and reliable. Improved energy efficiency results from both environmental stewardship and advances in consumer technologies.

Policy, regulation, and technology advances are required to promote energy efficiency and to enable or encourage electrification:

  • Explore technical options and policies for achieving cost-effective efficiency gains. Traditional energy efficiency efforts should expand to look beyond equipment improvements to examine broader gains from fuel switching (gas furnace to heat pump) and process improvement (e.g., airlines reduce energy use per passenger using price structures to fill seats). Efficiency metrics that assume two-thirds losses in all electricity generation are becoming inappropriate in many regions. Regulators can review efficiency policies to assess and improve their effectiveness.
  • Evaluate energy and environmental policies and regulations that allow or encourage electrification. Understand how each sector’s policies drive disincentives or work at cross-purposes for efficient, effective compliance throughout the energy sector. Examples include rules that penalize electric utilities for increasing emissions as a result of powering large fleets of electric vehicles, despite a net reduction in emissions when considering the gasoline use that is displaced. Research must provide for accurate accounting of electrification’s net results and identify approaches to overcome financial, ownership, and informational impediments. Policymakers and regulators can seek new cross-sector approaches to achieve their goals and create incentives necessary to spur infrastructure investment (e.g., electric vehicle charging structure).
  • Develop and demonstrate advanced, highly efficient, clean-energy end-use technologies. EPRI deems it necessary to identify promising electric technologies and develop those that drive and serve new customer preferences and that provide increased value as economics and policies evolve. Continued investment in these technologies can reduce emissions per unit of energy services, reduce water consumption and other environmental impacts, and offer customers an array of benefits including lower cost, productivity gains, improved product quality, and a cleaner, safer work environment. Also important are advances in fuel cells and other technologies for consuming cleanly produced hydrogen as well as technology, communication protocols, and distribution standards for effectively integrating these end-use resources in the system. Sustained funding for research and technology demonstrations are critical to keeping promising products in the pipeline.