EnergyVision 2030 models a system that will benefit all consumers and businesses. As emissions are reduced and efficiency improves, major health risks will also decline. Community energy projects will reduce emissions while improving grid flexibility, benefiting consumers locally and across the region. By increasing transparency and responsiveness, utilities and the states that regulate them will empower consumers to make the best energy choices for their needs. By putting consumer needs first, states can ensure that their energy systems are as clean and efficient as possible.
Community Energy Fuels the Clean Energy Future
The clean energy system presented in EnergyVision 2030 will promote and support community energy projects. Community energy is possible because of advances in distributed energy resources like solar and small-scale wind. It pulls community residents, businesses, and other local interests into a localized, mini energy system and offers increased access to affordable, local energy for all residents and expands local job opportunities.
Community-based energy is dynamic and employs a number of clean energy technologies. It uses technologies that improve efficiency–like energy efficient lighting and heat pumps–and technologies that generate clean electricity–like local solar and wind farms. Community energy can aggregate energy use by neighbors and even operate independently of the larger grid. Properly planned and designed, community energy systems are more resilient than traditional grid power and take advantage of system efficiencies to offer smarter, more flexible, more affordable power.
Cleaner Air and Healthier Buildings
A low-emissions energy system has benefits beyond preserving the planet and consumer wallets — people’s health will improve, too. Recent studies show that Northeast states are avoiding illness by reducing emissions and that energy efficiency measures can improve overall health.
Since 2009, New England, New York, and the other states that participate in the Regional Greenhouse Gas Initiative have saved lives as emissions have fallen. Fewer emissions have meant 8,000 fewer asthma attacks, 39,000 fewer sick days, and $5.7 billion fewer health expenses.
The deep emissions reductions from energy efficiency have provided similar regional health benefits and local ones as well. Residential energy efficiency has been shown to improve the overall mental and physical health, including asthma, of building occupants. These benefits have been observed especially among lower income homes and people with preexisting conditions.
A modern energy system will give all consumers greater control over their energy and environment. This control will allow them to make choices that can improve their families’ health while contributing to a system that will improve health globally.
Empowering the Modern Energy Consumer
A modern energy system will benefit and empower all of us to better control our energy use and costs; enable consumer-friendly, clean energy technologies to flourish; establish fair, manageable rates; and ensure that consumers are treated fairly. This energy system will empower people and connect communities to maximize participation and minimize environmental impacts.
Consumers can benefit directly from clean energy in their own homes (for instance, by using clean technologies to generate or store electricity or to maximize savings) and from the impacts the new energy system will have on society at large. Savings from local energy projects can free up funds for other local services like education or public safety. Electric vehicles mean quieter streets, and less utility infrastructure means fewer invasive projects in local communities. Renters too will benefit from a system that protects their energy interests and offers them the same energy choices given to home owners. All consumers can and should benefit from the clean energy future through equitable deployment of modern energy technologies.
To fully reap these benefits, states must keep consumers central as they design the rules that will govern our future energy system. A system that serves consumers well will prove much stronger over the long term and will have the flexibility to accommodate new innovations as they arrive. Read more about designing an energy system that works for consumers in Acadia Center’s UtilityVision.