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State and Local Climate and Energy Program

Identifying and Analyzing Policy Options

Across the nation, states are identifying and analyzing a variety of climate change and clean energy policies and programs as they decide which options to implement to meet their environmental, energy, and economic goals.

Identifying Policy Options

There are a range of clean energy policy option states can and do implement to advance energy efficiency and renewable energy depending on their goals, priorities and circumstances. States typically identify a range of potential policy options that may serve their needs and warrant further analysis by:

Analyzing Policy Options

While options are typically analyzed by comparing potential costs to potential benefits, the benefits captured in such analyses are typically limited to energy (kWh) and demand (kW) impacts. By including the full set of energy and non-energy costs and benefits, states can get a more complete picture of the costs and societal net benefits of potential policies in areas such as energy systems, the environment, public health and macroeconomics.

States may use their policy analyses to:

  • Demonstrate how policies and programs can help achieve multiple state energy, environmental, and economic goals in a cost-effective way
  • Design or select options that offer greater energy, environmental, and economic benefits
  • Build support for clean energy and climate change mitigation policies and programs

For clean energy policies, a starting point for screening and evaluating options is to understand the potential energy savings or renewable energy generation output that would be expected to result from the policies. These data can then be used to estimate prospective energy system, environmental, and/or economic impacts (costs and benefits) of the options such as those described in the graphic below.

Relationship Between Energy Savings & Other Benefits of Clean Energy Initiatives

This flow chart demonstrates the relationship between direct energy savings and other benefits of clean energy initiatives, such as energy system benefits, air and health benefits, and economic benefits.

The tools and approaches available for evaluating the impacts of options range from basic screening methods to sophisticated dynamic simulation models. In selecting the most appropriate tools or method, states can consider many factors, including purpose of analysis, impact(s) of interest, time constraints, cost, data requirements/availability, as well as internal staff expertise. States can either conduct the evaluation themselves or hire consultants. Regardless of who conducts the analysis, states should understand the methods and assumptions used in the analyses as they dramatically affect the results of the analyses. The Determining Results page provides more detailed information about possible state approaches.

Tools and Resources

Guidance and Methods | Economic Impacts | Emissions Impacts | Energy Impacts | Health Impacts

Guidance and Methods

Assessing the Multiple Benefits of Clean Energy

Assessing the Multiple Benefits of Clean Energy: A Resource for States provides an overview of the multiple benefits of clean energy and their importance. It includes information on

  • The importance of and approaches to calculating or estimating energy savings as the foundation for deriving multiple benefits
  • A range of tools and approaches to estimating energy systems, environmental, and economic benefits across varying levels of rigor
  • How states have supported the use of clean energy through the estimation of multiple benefits

Economic Impacts

Building Life Cycle Cost (BLCC) Programs

BLCC computer programs conduct economic analyses by evaluating the relative cost-effectiveness of alternative buildings and building-related systems or components. Typically, BLCC software is used to evaluate alternative designs that have higher initial costs but lower operating-related costs over the project life than the lowest-initial-cost design. It is especially useful for evaluating the costs and benefits of energy and water conservation and renewable energy projects. BLCC also calculates comparative economic measures for alternative designs, including net savings, savings-to-investment ratio, adjusted internal rate of return, and years to payback.

Cash Flow Opportunity Calculator

The Cash Flow Opportunity Calculator (XLS) (415K, About XLS Exit EPA disclaimer), developed for the ENERGY STAR program, uses building-specific data to help decision-makers quantify the financial benefits of energy efficient investments. The calculator estimates how much new energy efficiency equipment can be purchased with anticipated savings, compares financing options for energy efficiency purchases, and evaluates project economics under different interest rates.

Job and Economic Development Impact (JEDI) Models

JEDI models are easy-to-use models that analyze the economic impacts of constructing and operating power generation and biofuel plants at the local and state level. First developed to model wind energy development impacts, JEDI now includes models to analyze the job and economic impacts of biofuel plants and concentrating solar power, coal and natural gas power plants.

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Emissions Impacts

AVoided Emissions and geneRation Tool (AVERT)

AVERT is a free tool with a simple user interface designed to meet the needs of state air quality planners and other interested stakeholders. Non-experts can easily use AVERT to evaluate county, state and regional levels of NOx, SO2 and CO2 emissions displaced by energy efficiency, wind and solar policies and programs. AVERT uses public data, which is accessible and auditable.

Emissions & Generation Resource Integrated Database (eGRID)

eGRID contains a comprehensive inventory of environmental attributes of electric power systems including air emissions data for nitrogen oxides, sulfur dioxide, carbon dioxide, and mercury. The data are organized in a series of Microsoft Excel files that state governments can use to find data on emissions from electricity generation within their state.

Power Profiler

States can use this tool to evaluate the environmental benefits of choosing cleaner sources of energy. The Power Profiler is a Web-based tool that allows users to evaluate the air pollution and greenhouse gas impact of their electricity choices. Using only a ZIP code, the tool generates a report describing the characteristics of one's electricity use.

WAste Reduction Model (WARM)

EPA created the WAste Reduction Model (WARM) to help solid waste planners and organizations track and voluntarily report greenhouse gas emissions reductions from several different waste management practices. WARM calculates and totals GHG emissions of baseline and alternative waste management practices-source reduction, recycling, combustion, composting, and landfilling.

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Energy Impacts

Cool Roofing Comparison Calculator

States considering policies promoting the use of solar reflective (or "cool") roofing can estimate the energy savings associated with various roofing types using this online calculator developed for ENERGY STAR. The Cool Roofing Comparison Calculator Exit EPA disclaimer estimates energy cost savings for air-conditioned residential, office, or commercial buildings with at least 3,000 square feet of roof area and heated by either natural gas or an electric heat pump. The calculator provides estimates of building-specific energy savings by taking site- and structure-specific factors into account. The tool calculates the net energy savings that would result from a different type of roofing, taking into account potential increases in heating costs along with reduced cooling costs.

E-Calc

E-Calc Exit EPA disclaimer is a Web-based calculator that allows government and building industry users to design and evaluate a wide range of projects for energy savings and emissions reduction potential. This tracking tool was developed by Texas A&M University's Energy Systems Laboratory in response to legislative incentives to quantify emissions reductions from building energy savings and distributed renewable technology. E-Calc evaluates residential, commercial, retail, and municipal buildings energy and emissions savings, as well as savings from renewables like solar heating, solar PV, and wind power.

ENERGY STAR Energy Savings Calculators

ENERGY STAR's Purchasing & Procurement page provides spreadsheet tools that calculate the cost benefits of ENERGY STAR appliances. Energy Savings Calculators are available for a wide range of product categories including dishwashers, refrigerators and freezers, vending machines, heat pumps, computers, computer monitors, and copiers.

ENERGY STAR Target Finder

States can use this Web-based tool to assist with energy management planning during the design phase of building construction. Target Finder allows planners to set an aggressive energy performance target for building design and compare estimated energy consumption to the established target. The tool can provide direction during the design process and facilitate the evaluation of a range of energy efficiency measures to achieve energy and cost goals.

MARKet ALlocation (MARKAL) Model

MARKAL Exit EPA disclaimer, developed by the International Energy Agency, is a model that assists users in selecting appropriate technologies for maximum emissions control and cost effectiveness. Because the model gives results in terms of cost per unit of emissions abatement, this tool can be useful in determining the costs associated with certain policy measures. EPA has a nine region MARKAL technology database (EPANMD) in electronic format available to the public upon request.

National Energy Modeling System (NEMS)

NEMS is a general equilibrium energy-economic model of the United States. It projects the production, import, conversion, consumption, and prices of energy, subject to assumptions on macroeconomic and financial factors, world energy markets, resource availability and costs, behavioral and technological choice criteria, cost and performance characteristics of energy technologies, and demographics. The modeling system is unique in its comprehensive treatment of supply-side technologies (particularly in the electricity sector), and its detailed treatment of energy demand at the end-use level.

Projected Impacts of State Energy Efficiency and Renewable Energy Policies

EPA has projected the energy impacts of energy efficiency and renewable energy state policies not included in the Energy Information Administration's Annual Energy Outlook 2013. These projections are intended for use by states developing State Implementation Plans (SIPs) for ozone and other criteria air pollutants under the National Ambient Air Quality Standards (NAAQS). States may also use EPA's draft methodology to develop their own estimates of EE/RE policy impacts and associated emissions reductions. Jurisdictions not currently preparing a SIP but interested in better understanding the energy and emissions impacts of EE/RE policies may likewise use EPA's methodology and estimates to identify strategies for staying in attainment with NAAQS.

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Health Impacts

Co-Benefits Risk Assessment (COBRA) Screening Model

COBRA is a screening tool that enables users to:

  • Roughly estimate the impact of emission changes on ambient air pollution
  • Further translate this into health effect impacts
  • Monetize the value of those impacts
  • View the estimated county-level results in tables and maps

Environmental Benefits Mapping and Analysis Program (BenMAP)

BenMAP is a tool for estimating the health and economic benefits of air pollution reduction strategies. It combines air pollution monitoring data, air quality modeling data, census information, and population projections to calculate a population's potential exposure to ambient air pollution. BenMAP is used primarily to estimate benefits from changes in particulate matter and ozone concentrations, but it can also be adapted for other pollutants. Most Windows-based computers run BenMAP.

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