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Regulators, advocates, and energy industry companies have long understood that energy efficiency policies and programs can reduce air pollution emissions associated with fuel combustion. This reduction in emissions can lead to lower environmental compliance costs and, ultimately, lower public health costs. After all, nearly half of all Americans live in places that do not meet national health-based standards for “criteria” air pollutants like ozone and fine particles.

In recent years, much has been said and written by energy industry experts about how to include avoided environmental costs in standard energy efficiency cost-effectiveness tests. However, most of the discussion has focused on quantifying and monetizing reductions in greenhouse gas emissions. Less attention has been given to quantifying and monetizing reductions in criteria pollutant emissions, and regulators still struggle with including energy efficiency in air quality plans. The EPA’s Office of Air and Radiation has created some progress with its Roadmap for Incorporating Energy Efficiency/Renewable Energy Policies and Programs into State and Tribal Implementation Plans. These guidelines actively encourage state, tribal, and local agencies to consider leveraging energy efficiency policies and programs in plans to attain National Ambient Air Quality Standards.

In this webinar, Christopher James, Ken Colburn, and John Shenot from the Regulatory Assistance Project explore how air quality considerations are increasingly factoring into energy efficiency policy decisions, and vice versa. They discuss:

  • Past efforts – Where have the avoided emissions attributable to efficiency been estimated?
  • Current efforts – Which states are looking at quantifying avoided emissions? Which states are considering including efficiency policies and programs in their air quality plans? What factors are driving the state interest?
  • Introduction to tools and methods –How are avoided emissions estimated? Who does the estimating? How much expertise is needed? (Note: this will only cover an introduction to the topic, not training on how to do it.)
  • Scale of avoided emissions – How aggressive must energy efficiency efforts be in order to make a discernible difference in air quality? How long must those efforts be sustained? What happens if efficiency efforts decline or lapse?
  • Scale of avoided costs – To what extent can air quality benefits “tip the scales” of cost-effectiveness for energy efficiency?
  • Policy – What policy issues and opportunities remain to be considered?